* Traders say Iraq bought as much as 450,000 tonnes
* Trade ministry official says direct deal gets better prices
* Cabinet authorized ministry to buy through direct deals in May (Adds quotes, context)
BAGHDAD, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Iraq has purchased U.S. wheat in a direct deal, outside the tender process, two Iraqi officials said on Thursday.
The wheat was purchased from Cargill and ADM, they said.
The officials would not confirm the quantity of hard red winter wheat purchased but traders said that Cargill sold a total of 300,000 tonnes while ADM sold 150,000 tonnes.
"The direct purchase of wheat helps us get better prices and to quickly boost the country's wheat reserves," a trade ministry advisor told Reuters on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.
Traders said the shipment would be within the next three months.
Iraq's cabinet in May authorised the ministry of trade to make direct purchases of wheat and rice to guarantee food security.
The Middle East buyer had been struggling to import the grains for its food subsidy programme after introducing new payment and quality terms that kept traders away from its international tenders earlier this year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday reported the sale of 100,000 tonnes of U.S. hard red winter wheat to Iraq for delivery during the 2017/18 marketing year. (Reporting By Moayed Kenany and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad and Michael Hogan in Hamburg; Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan, Karl Plume, Jo Winterbottom and Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Susan Fenton)