Sojitz aims to expand Russian wheat sales to Asia

TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Japanese trading house Sojitz Corp 2768.T said on Friday it has signed a strategic partnership with the Russian Grain Union to help expand its sales of Russian wheat throughout Asia.

Sojitz currently imports a limited amount of wheat from Russia for marketing samples.

It handles some 4 million tonnes of wheat imports a year for Asian markets, accounting for about 3 percent of wheat traded globally, mostly from the United States, Australia and Canada.

“We plan to expand the sale of Russian wheat at full force from next year, hoping to bring the total volume we handle to 5 million tonnes by 2012,” said a spokesman for the company, the nation’s sixth-largest trading house.

Ultimately, Sojitz plans to ship some of the wheat secured through the strategic partnership with the Russian grain industry body to Japan, which now imports 5.5 million tonnes of wheat per year, the spokesman said.

Japanese trading firms are stepping up efforts to secure grain supplies, aiming to use the sheer volume they trade in the global market as a bargaining tool to secure grain for Japan, as supplies are expected to tighten due to voracious demand in China and emerging economies. (Reporting by Chikako Mogi; Editing by Michael Watson)