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Turkish durum wheat comes to the fore for pasta producers…

“Pasta producers bought durum from Türkiye because it was offered to us at competitive prices,” said Vincenzo Divella, co-CEO of the eponymous Italian pasta company.

Vincenzo Divella

“We had a big problem in Canada … In our country, the season was disastrous because of the weather and rains.”

“The Turkish crop is seen in Italy as a good-quality option, though Canadian durum remains the benchmark for many processors. Lower durum prices, which have fallen by at least one-fifth to return to where they were before last summer’s panic over Canada’s drought, are bringing relief for shoppers,” he noted.

On the other hand, retail pasta prices in Italy in the two months to Feb. 25 were down 3.5% year-over-year, compared with a 7.4% rise over 2023, market data specialist Nielsen said.

With Europe now planning to use tariffs to shut out grain from Russia, in further fallout from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkish trade could become even more crucial.

Severine Omnes-Maisons

“For durum, this could have major consequences, particularly for Italian imports,” Severine Omnes-Maisons, analyst at Strategie Grains, said of the proposed tariffs on Russia, which has supplied a fifth of EU durum imports so far in 2023/24.

Dwindling cultivation in the durum consumption heartlands of Europe and North Africa may also make the market more reliant on imported supply from Türkiye.

Drought has gripped parts of the Maghreb and southern Europe, which analysts see as a sign that the zone is becoming too arid even for a crop that likes dry, warm conditions. Morocco’s cereal harvest is set to shrink by half this year.

In France, a regular supplier to the EU neighbors, torrential rain could reduce this year’s durum area to a new 21st-century low.

Importers have responded by scooping up crops from Türkiye, Russia, and Kazakhstan, a trio that Argus Media analyst Alexandre Marie sees as a potential “Canada on Europe’s doorstep.”

Alexandre Marie

However, some are cautious about Türkiye’s long-term role, given its state-managed grain supply and its own climate risks.

This season’s export campaign has been marked by uncertainty over how much exports the authorities will allow. State grain agency (Turkish Grain Board – TMO) this month canceled an export tender.

“This season, we were living day to day with Türkiye. It remains a very political process,” one European durum trader said…

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