So far, around 200,000 tonnes of French wheat have been shipped or are about to load, according to port data.
“Chinese demand remains dynamic at the start of the new season,” said Nathan Cordier of the consulting firm Agritel.
“Fortunately, China is there because we don’t export a lot of wheat elsewhere.”
While the reduced French supply and less competitive prices cost it substantial sales in Algeria, its main overseas market, Chinese importers have not been discouraged so far.
Traders see China’s appetite for French wheat as linked to a push to further fill its wheat import quota following a World Trade Organization decision, as well as a desire to diversify the country. sourcing as a result of trade disputes with grain suppliers such as the United States.
However, a cap on Chinese quotas and uncompetitive French supplies could keep wheat exports below a 2019/20 volume of around 1.6 million tonnes, traders said.
For French barley, nearly 700,000 tonnes have already been shipped or are about to be loaded for China.
Including cargoes destined for subsequent shipments, traders set French barley sales at least 1 million tonnes in the first half of the season, with a view to matching last season’s 1.5 million.
The announcement by China in May of a prohibitive import tariff on Australian barley triggered French sales of feed barley and malting barley for beer.
However, new sales have slowed as a rally in the euro makes French barley uncompetitive with Ukrainian or Canadian supplies, traders said.
Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris, Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Hallie Gu in Beijing; edited by David Evans