Cairo – About 300,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat, booked by Egyptian state grain buyers for delivery in February and March, have not yet been shipped, one cargo is stuck at the port and four are still to be loaded, four traders say.
Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) has proposed an extension to secure traders’ cargo, according to traders and officials.
Egypt, generally the world’s largest wheat importer, is heavily dependent on Black Sea wheat shipments due to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The war has raised concerns about Egypt’s ability to maintain strategic reserves and secure affordable wheat, which is used to provide steep-subsidized bread for about two-thirds of the population.
The Egyptian prime minister said this week that the government had stockpiled wheat for the past four months. Traders say the wheat purchased is counted among the country’s strategic reserves, although it has not yet been supplied.
Two of the cargoes that have not yet been loaded were contracted by Nibulan and two more by Inarco, traders said. A fifth cargo ship, contracted by Olam, is stranded at the Ukrainian port of Chornomersk.
Egypt’s supply minister confirmed on Sunday that authorities had approved an extension for cargo supplies, but could not immediately be reached for comment.
As Ukraine’s ports were closed due to Russian aggression, it was forced to send shipments across its western border, relying on limited railway capacity and the small Danube river port.
GASC has only bought foreign wheat once since the start of the war in Ukraine, mainly French grain at a higher price than it had previously paid in April.
(Reporting by Sarah El Safety in Cairo, Nadine Awadullah and Maha El Dahan in Dubai; Written by Aidan Lewis; Edited by David Evans)