French Wheat Export Forecast Raised Again but Shy of 10mn T Mark

May 16th, 2019


Category: Grains

(Business Recorder) – Farming agency FranceAgriMer on Wednesday raised its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the European Union in 2018/19 for a fourth straight month, confirming a brisk second half of the season for the EU’s biggest wheat exporter.

The increased outlook was nonetheless below the 10 million tonne-plus levels that some market players had anticipated during a flurry of shipments in March and April, with an end of season lull in demand curbing expectations, FranceAgriMer said.

French soft wheat exports in the 2018/19 season to June 30 were now seen at 9.75 million tonnes, up from the 9.7 million estimated last month and 1 million tonnes more than FranceAgriMer had projected in January.

“Market participants don’t seem to expect a significant volume of export business at the end of the season,” Marc Zribi, head of FranceAgriMer’s grain and sugar unit told reporters.

“The view is that we won’t reach the 10 million tonne mark.

But it’s more of a psychological level, the season remains a strong one.”

The latest estimate for 2018/19 soft wheat exports to non-EU countries was 20pc pct above last season’s volume of 8.1 million.

Exports this season reflected higher sales to main customer Algeria – helped by reduced competition from other EU countries like Germany -, increased sales to Egypt and a recovery in shipments to West Africa, FranceAgriMer said.

By May 13, French non-EU wheat exports stood at 8.9 million tonnes, according to Refinitiv data.

Prospects for next season could be curbed by current expectations for bumper harvests in Russia and Ukraine, as well as Russian efforts to gain access to the Algerian wheat market, the agency said.

In its monthly supply and demand forecasts, FranceAgriMer cut its estimate of 2018/19 French soft wheat ending stocks to 2.3 million tonnes from 2.4 million, now 23% below last season’s level.

For maize, it raised its estimate of 2018/19 ending stocks to 2.7 million tonnes from 2.6 million last month, 6pc above last season’s volume.

That mainly reflected an upward revision to French maize imports, now seen at 950,000 tonnes compared with 800,000 tonnes estimated last month and 605,000 tonnes last season.

The sharp increase to expected imports was in keeping with massive flows of competitively priced maize this season into the EU, notably from Ukraine, Zribi said.

For barley, projected 2018/19 ending stocks were trimmed to 1.6 million tonnes from 1.7 million last month, although they were 7.5pc above 2017/18 stocks.

Barley exports within the EU were revised up by 145,000 tonnes.

That contrasted with a 100,000 tonne cut to exports outside the bloc, reflecting reduced demand from major importers like Saudi Arabia, FranceAgriMer said.

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