Saudi wheat purchase was from EU, Australia and U.S.

RIYADH, March 5 Tue Mar 5, 2013 7:02am EST

RIYADH, March 5 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's purchase of hard and soft wheat for June-August delivery is to be sourced from the European Union, Australia and the United States, the Grain Silos and Flour Mills Organisation (GSFMO) said on its website.

The tender, for which results were announced on Sunday, was the first in which the kingdom sought soft wheat with a protein content of less than 12.5 percent, traders said, potentially opening it up to a wider range of exporters.

Saudi Arabia abandoned a policy of wheat self-sufficiency in 2008 and is moving to become entirely reliant on imports by 2016.

On Sunday it said that its June-August shipments of 465,000 tonnes of hard wheat and 110,000 tonnes of soft wheat, for delivery to its main ports of Jeddah and Dammam, would come from six suppliers, but did not say from where the wheat would originate.

However, GSFMO said on its website in an undated statement that both the hard and soft wheat would be sourced from the European Union, Australia and the United States. It added that the average shipment price for the hard wheat was $346.07 a tonne, compared with $328.14 a tonne for the soft wheat.

Hard wheat is more typically used for flour, while soft wheat is usually used in sweeter goods such as biscuits.

Last year the GSFMO director general, Waleed el-Khereiji, said that Saudi Arabia would gradually move to the importation of soft wheat. (Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by David Goodman)