Egypt’s state prosecutor ordered the seizure of all Russian wheat for checks over health concerns, Egyptian state media said May 13, in what Russia’s grain lobby said was an attempt to influence prices.
The prosecutor made the move after a complaint that a quantity of spoiled wheat unfit for human consumption had entered the Red Sea port of Safaga without proper quality control approvals, state news agency MENA said.
Egypt is one of the world’s top wheat importers and through GASC has bought over five million tonnes of wheat in the current fiscal year, much of it from Russia. Egypt is currently the biggest consumer of Russian wheat.
MENA said the complaint received by prosecutors concerned a specific shipment of wheat imported by Egyptian Traders, which regularly imports wheat for GASC, and that officials from both GASC and the importer had been summoned by prosecutors.
A wheat trader familiar with the matter said the shipment in question was of 52,000 tonnes that had been held in quarantine because of “some impurities.”
The head of the Russian Grain Union, Arkady Zlochevsky, said there was nothing wrong with Russian wheat and accused Egypt of trying to force Russian suppliers to sell at lower prices.
“So far we have had no complaints about the quality of Russian grain,” he said. “All grains we ship to Egypt fully correspond to conditions, including grade and quality, specified in export contracts.
“The problem is not the quality, but an attempt to play with prices,” Zlochevsky said.