Italy, the world’s third-largest wheat buyer, boosted imports of the grain by 17 percent in January, the national cereal-industry association reported. Shipment costs surged 61 percent.
Overall inbound wheat shipments rose to 656,784 metric tons in the month from 560,708 tons a year earlier, the Rome-based Associazione Nazionale Cerealisti, known as Anacer, said in an e-mailed statement today.
Italians eat more wheat products such as bread and pasta as part of their diet than the French, Germans, Americans or British, according to data from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. Italy’s wheat imports rose to an eight-year high in 2010 as domestic production fell.
Costs to import wheat jumped to 162.9 million euros ($236 million) in January, outpacing volume growth after prices rose from a year earlier, data from the association showed. Milling- wheat futures traded in Paris, the European benchmark, almost doubled in the past 12 months.
Imports of soft wheat, used to make bread and for animal feed, increased 25 percent to 424,213 tons, according to Anacer. The value of the incoming shipments more than doubled to 105 million euros from 51.2 million euros.
Deliveries of the harder durum variety, used to make pasta, advanced 4.9 percent to 232,571 tons in January.
Only Egypt and Brazil imported more wheat than Italy in the marketing year through June 2010, according to data from the International Grains Council.
Italy’s total grain imports rose to 1.2 million tons in January from 944,533 tons a year earlier, Anacer said. Barley shipments jumped 60 percent to 100,717 tons, while corn deliveries surged 67 percent to 281,601 tons.
Inbound grain shipments were valued at 324.4 million euros in the month, up from 204.9 million euros in January 2010, according to Anacer. Including oilseed and protein-crop products, the value of imports increased to 428.1 million euros from 297.9 million euros.
Italian cereal-industry exports amounted to 211.7 million euros in January, for a trade deficit of 216.4 million euros, almost double the 117.8-million euro shortfall a year earlier, Anacer said.
Overall Italian wheat production fell to 6.92 million tons last year from 7.01 million tons in the prior period, according to industry group Associazione Granaria Emiliana Romagnola, which cited government statistics.