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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Europe Awash in Russian, Ukrainian Grain

PARIS -- Europe's grain consumers are well supplied for months to come after traders imported a mountain of cheap Russian and Ukrainian wheat in late 2002, putting a lid on near-term demand, industry sources said Wednesday.

France, Europe's top grain exporter, is finding it hard to shift its large crop despite its quality and, having campaigned for the European Union's quota regime, to curb the import of East European wheat shipped via the Black Sea.

The quota system, which allows almost 3 million metric tons of a low- and medium-quality wheat into the bloc each year, came into force Jan. 1.

It caused an earlier stampede as traders shipped more grain than was needed toward the end of last year to beat the start of higher tariffs.

It has left animal feed makers awash with wheat, particularly in southern Europe and in the Netherlands.

The EU's latest data put wheat imports at around 10 million tons so far this season -- more than 10 percent of total production.

With its European markets largely closed off, France has sought to boost its traditional foothold in North Africa.

But it has found competition there stiff, too, with Egypt buying U.S. wheat with government aid and Black Sea exporters also courting new markets.

Analysts say that freezing Ukraine and Russia out of the EU's domestic markets can only increase this trend in the future.