Grain trading company Medsofts plans to re-export a shipment of 31,000 tonnes of Russian wheat it has been unable to unload in Egypt since July because of confusion about checks for the ergot fungus, a company official said on Thursday.
The dispute over changing Egyptian regulations about wheat with the fungus has severely disrupted Egyptian wheat imports with a series of shipments rejected. Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer.
The wheat arrived in the port of Damietta on July 22 but Medsofts was unable to get clearance from Egyptian quarantine authorities to unload the ship, sales manager Mohamed Bakr told Reuters
The high costs of keeping the shipment at port prompted Medsofts to re-export the wheat, he said.
"There's going to be a deficit in wheat as a result of the controls and policies taken by the government and quarantine," Bakr said.
Earlier in the day Romanian grain trading house Cerealcom Dolj said it had declined to ship wheat to Egypt because of the new ergot rules, denying reports that Egyptian inspectors had rejected a 63,000 tonne cargo.
Ergot, a common grains fungus that can cause hallucinations in large amounts, is considered harmless in low quantities and more common international standards allow a 0.05 percent tolerance level.
Traders, who say it is nearly impossible to guarantee zero ergot, had reported heightened inspection measures at ports of origin in recent weeks, which included re-inspecting and replacing wheat suspected of containing even single grains infected with ergot.
(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by Michael Hogan and Sybille de La Hamaide)