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Global cereal production set to reach a record high in 2023, while trade could contract in 2023/24

06.10.2023 12:55 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) FAOs latest forecast for global cereal production in 2023 is raised by 3.8 million tonnes from the previous forecast and now stands at 2 819 million tonnes, 0.9 percent (26.5 million tonnes) higher year on year. The improved outlook reflects better wheat production prospects, with the forecast for the world outturn revised upward by 3.7 million tonnes in September to 785 million tonnes. The upgrade in prospects is almost entirely based on recent and more positive yield estimates from the Russian Federation and Ukraine compared to earlier expectations, owing to continued favourable weather conditions. These upward revisions offset a steep cut to the forecast for Canadas wheat output due to extensive and persisting dry weather in the key producing states of Alberta and Saskatchewan, leading to lower overall yield expectations. Similarly, wheat production forecasts for Argentina and Kazakhstan were scaled back, as prolonged dry and hot weather has degraded crop conditions and led to a trimming of yield forecasts. FAOs latest forecast for global coarse grains production for 2023 has remained virtually unchanged at 1 511 million tonnes; however, it represents a 2.7 percent (39.2 million tonnes) increase from the previous year. The forecast for global maize production was raised slightly this month, driven almost entirely by improved prospects in Brazil, reflecting the latest area and yield estimates from the ongoing main crop (safrinha) harvest. Brazil is experiencing conducive overall weather conditions this year, underpinning the excellent prospects, with production seen reaching a record high in 2023. Offsetting the bulk of this increase, the forecast for world barley production was trimmed marginally from the previous figure, reinforcing expectations of a year-on-year decline in 2023. The recent cutback to the global forecast is mainly the result of a downgraded production outlook for Canada, where the dry growing conditions across the Canadian Prairies have sharply lowered yield prospects. As for rice, somewhat lower than previously anticipated plantings have trimmed production prospects for Bangladesh, Nigeria and the Philippines since September. However, these revisions were largely offset by upgrades for the United States of America, where officials report that an even more pronounced area rebound took place this season, and for Cote dIvoire, where planting expansions coupled with generally conducive growing conditions look set to translate into a record harvest. As a result, world rice production in 2023/24 is pegged at 523.1 million tonnes (milled basis), essentially unchanged from the September forecast and implying a 1.0 percent annual increase.

World cereal utilization in 2023/24 is forecast at 2 804 million tonnes, still 0.8 percent (21.8 million tonnes) higher than in 2022/23 despite a 3.1-million-tonne downward revision this month. The forecast for total wheat utilization has been lowered by 1.7 million tonnes since the previous report to 783 million tonnes, but still exceeds the 2022/23 level by 0.5 percent. The increase from last season stems almost exclusively from higher food consumption, foreseen to offset an anticipated fall in feed use of wheat, while other uses is set to remain unchanged. Total utilization of coarse grains in 2023/24 is forecast at 1 500 million tonnes, down 1.1 million tonnes from the last report but still 1.2 percent above the 2022/23 level. The bulk of the year-on-year increase is due to expectations of a stronger demand for maize (especially for feed use). Sorghum utilization (almost exclusively for feed use) is also seen increasing, while barley utilization is set to contract. On the other hand, global rice utilization in 2023/24 is forecast at 520.5 million tonnes, little changed since September and continuing to suggest a second successive season of no or negative utilization growth, as continued cuts in non-food uses are expected to offset a population-led increase in food intake.

The forecast for world cereal stocks by the close of the 2024 seasons has been raised by 6.1 million tonnes since the previous month to 884 million tonnes, surpassing the opening levels by 3.0 percent (25.4 million tonnes) and marking a record high. This months higher forecast for ending stocks, combined with a lower forecast for utilization, results in a slightly higher stocks-to-use ratio for total cereals in 2023/24, now projected at 30.8 percent, up marginally from 30.6 percent in 2022/23. The forecast for global wheat inventories has been raised by 4.1 million tonnes this month, now up 1.8 percent from opening levels to 319 million tonnes. This months upward revision largely stems from higher inventories expected in Ukraine and the Russian Federation as a result higher production estimates. Similarly, boosts to maize inventories in Brazil and the United States of America, also as a result of higher production estimates, account for most of the 1.6-million-tonne upward revision to the forecast for world coarse grain stocks in 2023/24, now pegged at 366 million tonnes, up 4.7 percent from opening levels. Following a small upward adjustment since September, world rice stocks at the close of 2023/24 marketing seasons are now seen in the order of 198.6 million tonnes. This level would imply a 1.7 percent year-on-year rise to a new peak, but with much of the forecast expansion concentrated in a few countries, particularly India, but also China (mainland), Indonesia and the United States of America.

FAOs latest forecast for world trade in cereals in 2023/24 remains at around 466 million tonnes, unchanged from last month and pointing to a contraction of 1.7 percent (8.0 million tonnes) from the 2022/23 level. World wheat exports in 2023/24 (July/June) are set to contract by 3.5 percent (7.0 million tonnes) from last season, with the forecast remaining unchanged this month at 193 million tonnes, as higher exports foreseen for the Russian Federation, supported by ample supplies, offset downward revisions to exports from Australia and Canada, where production prospects were lowered. Forecast at 220 million tonnes, also unchanged since last month, world trade in coarse grains in 2023/24 (July/June) is seen heading for an annual decline of 0.7 percent (1.5 million tonnes), mainly reflecting an anticipated contraction in global maize trade. The forecast for world trade in maize in 2023/24 held steady this month, at 178 million tonnes, as an upward adjustment to maize shipments expected from Brazil, where supplies are abundant thanks to a record harvest, were balanced by slight downward revisions to sales by Paraguay and the United States of America. Largely reflecting small downward adjustments to West African imports, world rice trade in 2024 (January-December) is now forecast at 53.0 million tonnes. This level would stand just 0.5 million tonnes above the 2023 depressed level, with the meek trade recovery expected to be largely sustained by larger shipments from Pakistan, Myanmar and Thailand, which could help offset likely export cuts primarily by India, but also by Viet Nam.

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