French wheat exports to rise 11 percent

September 15, 2013


Farm office FranceAgriMer on Wednesday forecast an 11 percent rise in French soft wheat exports outside the European Union this season in view of increased supply in the EU’s top wheat grower and exporter. In its first supply and demand estimates for the 2013/14 July-June season, FranceAgriMer put soft wheat exports to non-EU countries at 11.0 million tonnes, up from 9.9 million in 2012/13.

Traders say France could ship as much as 12 million tonnes outside the EU after a bigger harvest, although this depends on being competitive in top import market Egypt. “Our supply and demand balance aims to be both ambitious and realistic,” Olivia Le Lamer, head of FranceAgriMer’s crop unit, told reporters, adding France should maintain its position in core export markets like Algeria and win some sales to Egypt. FranceAgriMer’s estimate of this summer’s wheat harvest of 36.7 million tonnes is currently below the 37 million tonnes seen by the farm ministry and some trade estimates as high as 37.5 million tonnes.

But in Wednesday’s supply/demand outlook, the office revised up sharply stocks from the end of 2012/13 to 2.9 million tonnes from 2.3 million previously, thereby increasing supply for the current season. Officials said it had adjusted last season’s stocks in response to new data from its regional sources and could be led to make further revisions in the coming months. For the current season, it projected French soft wheat ending stocks would fall 4.9 percent to 2.7 million tonnes, a level still seen as comfortable by traders.

In terms of wheat quality, which is crucial for securing export deals, FranceAgriMer estimated in a separate survey that average protein content in this year’s harvest was 11.2 percent, down from 11.4 percent in 2012. The estimate confirmed an improvement in quality results during the harvest after initial weak protein readings along the west coast below the usual milling standard of 11 percent.

But France still faced a long-term problem in declining protein levels that needed to be addressed, officials said. In other crops, the office forecast French barley exports outside the EU at 1.9 million tonnes in 2013/14, which would be up 7.3 percent from last season’s 1.8 million tonnes that were already a 10-year high. Low prices have enabled France to secure shipments to importers like Saudi Arabia and Jordan at the start of this season.

In maize, FranceAgriMer said it expected exports outside the EU to fall to 300,000 tonnes this season after an exceptionally high 524,000 tonnes in 2012/13, when France benefited from demand from Asia amid tight global supply of the grain. Courtesy Reuters

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