Egypt’s state grain importer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities, bought 120,000 tonnes of Kazakh wheat after its latest tender, at $291 a tonne.
The purchase is the first by Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, from the Kazakhstan, historically the world’s seventh-ranked wheat exporter and top flour shipper, for more than a year.
And many analysts had expected the country to remain out of the limelight for now, given a wish by Russia and Ukraine, which have the advantage of Black Sea ports, to increase their own shipments.
Svetlana Sinkovskaya, at analysis group APK-Inform, warned last week that the country faced "stiff competition" from Russia and Ukraine, on which landlocked Kazakhstan relies considerably for access to ports too.
"Experts doubt" that Kazakhstan will be able to ship the 7.5m tonnes of wheat in 2011-12 that the US Department of Agriculture predicts, APK-Inform added.
Indeed, Russian wheat took the balance of Gasc’s 300,000-tonne order on Wednesday. The authority has now bought 1.7m tonnes of Russian wheat since the 2011-12 season began at the start of July.
However, Ukraine’s grain export hopes have dimmed with a finance ministry refusal, this year at least, to remove a levy on shipments.
Meanwhile, the Kazakh government is attempting to encourage shipments through measures such as subsidies against transport costs which, to Russian port of Novorossiysk are $150 a tonne, and to Ukrainian ports $160 a tonne, according to US government attaches in Astana.
The Kazakh crop, almost all spring sown, is also seen as, generally, being of good quality.
Details of Wednesday’s order showed the average price of Russian wheat at $290.90 a tonne, down nearly $3.90 a tonne from the price paid two weeks ago, after its last tender.
The cheapest French wheat was offered by Granit at $299.69 a tonne, marginally closer to the winning bids than last time, when the least expensive offer was a little over $10 a tonne off the pace.