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UPDATE 2-French non-EU wheat exports forecast to double in 2017/18

(Adds quotes, quality)

By Valerie Parent

PARIS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - French soft wheat exports outside
the European Union could more than double in 2017/18 from last
season when they plunged after a poor harvest in the EU's
largest wheat producer, farm office FranceAgriMer said.

In its first supply-and-demand outlook for the 2017/18
July-June season, the office estimated France's non-EU soft
wheat exports in 2017/18 at 10.2 million tonnes, up from 5.0
million in 2016/17 but still lower than the previous three
seasons.

"This is an estimate that can be seen as strong and weak.
Not very high if you look at available supplies but quite high
in light of (French wheat's) competitiveness at current prices,"
Olivia Le Lamer, head of FranceAgriMer's grains unit, told
reporters.

"The quality of the harvest is good news but our presence on
the world market is not guaranteed because volumes in Russia are
unheard of and, at this point, there is no reason to doubt the
quality of their grain," she said.

Russia is set to be the top global wheat exporter in the
2017/18 season with shipments estimated at 32.5 million tonnes,
up from the previous season's 27.8 million tonnes, data from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture showed on Tuesday.

French wheat shipments within the 28-member bloc were
expected to rise 25 percent to 7.85 million tonnes. The final
number would depend on the mix of grains used by animal feed
makers in northern Europe and French wheat's competitiveness on
the European market.

FranceAgriMer's forecast is below trade expectations of at
least 8 million tonnes as operators expect France will be able
to take some markets usually supplied by Germany and the Baltic
states, which harvested a poor-quality crop this year.

Final results from a quality survey, carried out with
technical institute Arvalis, showed the average protein content
of the soft wheat harvest stood at a "high level" of 12.3
percent, FranceAgriMer said.

Some 91 percent of the soft wheat harvest tested was above
11.5 percent protein - a level used by importers such as Egypt
and West Africa.

Specific weights, a measure of grain density, were also high
at an average 77.2 kg per hectolitre (kg/hl), with about 75
percent of the crop showing a specific weight above the
widely-used commercial benchmark of 76 kg/hl.

FranceAgriMer forecast French soft wheat stocks at the end
of this season would rise to 3.4 million tonnes, from 2.9
million at the end of last season.

Barley ending stocks were estimated nearly unchanged at 1.05
million tonnes compared to 1.07 million at the end of June.

For maize, FranceAgriMer pegged ending stocks this season at
2.5 million tonnes, up from 1.95 million last season, mainly due
to a larger crop.
(Writing by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Gus Trompiz and
Edmund Blair)

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