CAIRO - Egypt is in talks with Argentina, India, France and the United States for future wheat imports but is in no rush to buy at the moment, the supply minister said on Thursday.
Egypt, one of the world's biggest wheat importers, is looking for alternatives to Black Sea grain exports which face disruptions caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, both major wheat exporters to Egypt. Global grain prices have soared.
"There's no need for tenders right now but we are planning for the entire year so we are open to all possibilities and preparing backup plans," Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said.
He said Egypt could start tendering again in the local mid-harvest period, which typically starts in April and ends in July or August. The government aims to procure 6 million tonnes of wheat from the local harvest.
The minister said the government had already held talks with the United States and France and would meet Argentinian representatives next week.
Indian suppliers still have to seek accreditation as an import origin from state buyer the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC).
The government set a fixed price for unsubsidised bread this week after bread prices jumped 25% to 1.25 Egyptian pounds($0.07) per loaf in some bakeries. Flour prices had also reached highs of 11,000 Egyptian pounds ($602.70) per tonne in the weeks since the invasion.
The supply ministry said it would begin offering flour to the private sector at 8,600 Egyptian pounds ($471.23) per tonne, and would penalise for violators of the fixed prices from Saturday, the minister added.
($1 = 18.2500 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah El Safty; Writing by Lina Najem; Editing by Susan Fenton and Edmund Blair)