Cookie, bread makers may double wheat imports

Written by Bloomberg | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 04:01am hrs
Bread and cookie makers in India, the second-biggest wheat producer, may almost double imports of the grain from Australia and Ukraine as they look for cheaper supplies from overseas.

Flour mills may import as much as 3,00,000 tonne in the year ending March 31, compared with 158,000 tonne last year, said MK Dattaraj, former president of the Roller Flour Millers Federation of India. Premium quality Australian grain will make up most of the purchase, he said.

India last week said it will sell 5 million tonne of wheat in the open market to cool prices, which have gained 10% since the start of the financial year on April 1. Millers in the countrys southern states, who rely on supplies from the growing regions in the north, may not be benefited from the sales.

Theres a small window of opportunity for imports as the wheat supplied by the government is more expensive than imported wheat in southern India, Atul Chaturvedi, president at Adani Enterprises, the nations largest non-state trader of farm goods, said in a telephone interview from Ahmedabad.

Mills in Bangalore pay about $318 a tonne for premium quality Australian wheat, compared with Rs 14,200 ($307) for common variety grain from the FCI, Dattaraj said. Black Sea-origin wheat is cheaper at about $245 to $250 at southern Indian ports, Chaturvedi said.

Users may have contracted to buy 100,000 tonne since April 1, mostly for shipment in July and August, and may increase orders, Dattaraj said. The bulk of the wheat needed by mills in South is yet to be contracted, he said.

Wheat for September delivery lost 1.1% to $4.6575 a bushel in Chicago, and traded at $4.6825. July-delivery fell as much as 1.4% to Rs 1,224.80 per 100 kg on the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange.