Iran is holding talks to import 1 million tons of wheat from Russia to export as flour to neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran Food Confederation Secretary General Kaveh Zargaran said.
Iranian flour millers are operating at 50 percent of capacity and are seeking the wheat to boost sales, Zargaran said Saturday in an interview in Dubai. Officials from the Iran Food Confederation and Iran millers met with the Russian agriculture ministry in Moscow last week to discuss the trade, he said.
Iran is already one of the biggest suppliers of flour to Iraq. Iran’s wheat consumption will be a record 18.35 million metric tons in the 2017-18 marketing year, exceeding domestic production of 15 million tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Rain for the new harvest was “a little lower” than last year, so the crop may be smaller, Zargaran said. Wheat imports for domestic use are currently banned to support local farmers, he said.
Iraq imports about 3 million tons of flour a year, meeting almost half of its demand of 6.9 million tons a year, according to the Trade Ministry. Two flour mills were authorized to start production for the private sector for the first time since 1990, starting in March or April, according to Taha Yassin Abbas, general manager of the General Co. for the Manufacture of Grain, which operates the government’s 17 flour mills.
Turkey, the biggest shipper of flour to Iraq, is facing a smaller wheat crop, and the government may lower its import duty on the grain to maintain flour and pasta exports, according to Veysel Kaya, founder of Sunseedman, an Edirne, Turkey-based brokerage and consulting company.