TOKYO, July 30 (Reuters) - Japan will resume buying U.S. western white wheat, the nation's farm minister said on Tuesday, after halting imports of the grade following the discovery of a genetically modified strain in an Oregon field earlier this year.
Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, (MAFF) told reporters at a weekly media briefing that the government would include western white in a regular tender for wheat imports on Thursday.
Japan, which usually imports around 800,000 tonnes of western white annually, joins South Korea and other big buyers in restarting purchases of the grade.
U.S. wheat trade groups applauded the return of its top white wheat customer.
"The announcement from Japan comes as a result of a thorough, science-based review by MAFF of the ongoing APHIS (USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) investigation, as well as a sustained effort by the wheat industry, USDA and many others to provide the information MAFF needed to buy U.S. Western White and soft white wheat again," the U.S. Wheat Associates and National Association of Wheat Growers said in a statement.
Japan set a tender on Tuesday to buy 178,212 tonnes of wheat used for food via a regular weekly tender to be held on Aug. 1.
The tender included nearly 90,000 tonnes of U.S. western white wheat, three times the typical weekly amount, and was its first tender for the variety since abruptly cancelling a white wheat tender on May 30, after the GMO finding was revealed.
Japan's return to the market was widely expected, but cash bids for soft white wheat to be delivered to Portland, Oregon, a key export terminal in the Pacific Northwest - the largest U.S. export gateway for wheat - firmed on Tuesday. August bids were up to 4 cents per bushel higher, according to USDA data.