“something crazy”

Leaders of the Norman agricultural cooperative group Natup (7,000 farmers, 1,800 workers) will remember February 24, 2022 for a long time. And not only because of the start of the war in Ukraine. Russia’s occupation of one of the world’s first grain warehouses immediately hits the market for agricultural raw materials, where Natup sells grain collected from its members.

On that day, the price of cereals, already high due to Chinese demand, literally went up. Within twelve hours, the price of one ton of wheat increased by 60 euros and reached an unprecedented level – 340 euros. The price of one ton of rape suddenly rose from 170 euros to 1070 euros. ” Something crazy! “Natup CEO Patrick Apps sums up why we’re still impressed.

On the 24th, we open the day with about thirty million margin calls. We close it with a hundred million. Even if they trust us, I can assure you that our bankers have happened. »

Historic high

Ten months from now, those same bankers can breathe a sigh of relief from the glowing balance sheet presented by the co-op. Buoyed by a rise in grain prices, the 2021/2022 income report (closed in June and released this week) shows historic levels.

Turnover increased by 25% to one and a half billion euros, and EBITDA is close to 60 million. Record. Enough to build some reserves for the next storm Patrick Apps expects.

Price volatility has never been higher remembers Today, the price of a ton of wheat can still change by 70 euros in 72 hours. »

It is a question of geopolitical maneuvers and the unpredictability of deliveries from the Black Sea.

Call for weather on French wheat

The bottom line: Demand for French grains has rarely been higher. Although protein was scarce due to the summer drought, harvested wheat in France sold like hotcakes.

As proof, Simarex, Natup’s grain export arm, has never loaded more ships from its silos in the port of Rouen than in the last six months (35 versus 20 in the same period last year). ” It is true that we experienced an unprecedented peak of activity. This forced us to deal with the availability of teams that sometimes had to work at night “, says Cédric Burg, director of the grain department.

Will there be wheat this summer?

The silos were emptied like never before Patrick approves Applications. In fact, the cooperative shipped about 700,000 tons of wheat and barley between July and December, about three-quarters of what it normally ships in a twelve-month period. Targets include Egypt, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania.

Some countries that turned to the Black Sea have returned “, says Jean-Charles Deschamps, who has just left Natup’s presidency.

This influx of orders does not cause some uncertainty about the beginning of next year. ” Our supply, and the supply of French wheat in general, will be lower and, given the current geopolitical uncertainties, there is no guarantee that this will be compensated by Russia. “, Cédric Jurg deciphers.

The question is particularly relevant to China, where demand for cereals, which hit record highs in 2020, could begin to rise again.

Great maneuvers

Obviously, a sign that speaks volumes is that the American multinational Bunge, a giant in the trade of agricultural raw materials, has announced that it has acquired 49% of the shares of the Rouen-based BZ group, which specializes in collection and import. – grain export – Beuzel’s family is the majority.

This partnership will strengthen our global wheat and barley network and enable us to offer our customers a broad portfolio of the most important origins. Christos Dimopoulos, co-president of Bunge agribusiness, commented in his press release.

Among the projects announced by the two shareholders: the extension of the export terminal.