November 9, 2018 / 6:55 PM / 8 days ago

Bunge sees Brazil 2019 wheat imports rising 11 pct on crop failure

SAO PAULO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Brazil wheat imports are expected to increase 11 percent in 2019 to 7 million tonnes as the country grapples with crop failures this year, a senior manager for commodities trading firm Bunge Ltd said on Friday.

In Brazil, weather problems including rainfall during the harvest have contributed to the forecast for Brazil’s 2018 wheat crop being cut to 5.3 million tonnes from the 6 million tonnes projected originally, said Edson Csipai, Bunge’s manager of grain origination.

Brazil may also face higher prices in meeting demand with wheat from Argentina, the largest exporter of the grain to Brazil, despite its neighbor’s record harvest of 20 million tonnes this year. Farmers in Argentina have advance sold more of their crop than ever before with the harvest just getting underway.

“The situation in Argentina is extremely comfortable in terms of price,” Csipai said at an event in Sao Paulo.

Argentina should be able to raise prices soon as leading wheat exporter Russia is facing crop failures as well and will likely need to reduce its shipments starting in January or February, he said. Argentine wheat is currently priced around $237 per tonne, roughly $70 below the United States’ product.

The quality of Brazil’s grain will also suffer with high moisture levels in southern Brazil and only 1.9 million tonnes of the harvest will be fit for baking flour for bread, the principle form of domestic demand. Brazil uses an estimated 11 million tonnes of so-called type 1 wheat annually for bread.

Nearly half of the harvest will be lower quality type 2 wheat used in products like cookies, while 890,000 tonnes will be destined for animal feed.

Much of the lower quality wheat will need to be exported, with the cargoes generally bound for Africa and Asia, Csipai said. (Reporting by Roberto Samora Writing by Jake Spring Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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