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Pandemic boosts wheat's strategic importance

18 October 2020 09:16
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Pandemic boosts wheat's strategic importance

ISTANBUL. KAZINFORM Wheat took on greater strategic importance amid the pandemic, when countries focused on domestic consumption rather than foreign trade, and countries' wheat stocks rose significantly.

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Trade relations and supply chains were affected by the protectionist policies that got stronger during the COVID-19 pandemic, which first appeared last December in China, Anadolu Agency reports.


Eren Gunhan Ulusoy, head of the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) Eurasia, said global wheat production totals some 770 million tons annually, and 20 million tons of this production is overproduction.


While global wheat stocks total around 320 million tons, China holds around the half of these stocks with 163 million tons, up 7 million since the beginning of this year, underlined Ulusoy, also the head of the Turkish Flour Industrialists' Federation.


While one in three people worldwide lives in China, 50% of the wheat stocks are in China, he said, adding: «The shelf life of wheat is three to five years, and if there’s a war, wheat [as a strategic product] is something like a bullet.»


On flour production and trade during the pandemic, he said countries such as France and the UK focused on domestic consumption in this period.

France, Turkey's rival in the global flour market, especially in West African countries, was unable to meet flour demand in the pandemic period but Turkey continued to export flour to Africa, he said.

The Turkish flour industry capacity utilization’s rate is around 50%, with total capacity of 32 million tons annually, and 17 million tons of unused flour capacity, which can help meet world flour demand, he underlined.

If any country needs a large amount of flour, it has to come to Turkey, and countries which face problems with industrial production such as Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Cuba and Venezuela cannot produce flour domestically, Ulusoy highlighted.

Turkey is the largest flour exporter in the world and second-largest pasta exporter.

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