January 13, 2011


France raises forecast for wheat exports again



French officials have lifted expectations once more for the country's wheat exports after data showed shipments from the EU's top producer going at 33% higher than the previous year.


FranceAgriMer, the French farm office, which a month ago lifted its estimate for soft wheat shipments outside the EU by 100,000 tonnes, raised it by a further 200,000 tonnes on Wednesday (Jan 12) to a record 11.8 million tonnes.


The upgrade reflected the curbs on exports by Black Sea exporters, following a drought last year which was, in Russia, the worst on record.


It was also reflected in a cut of 185,000 tonnes, to just under two million tonnes, in the forecast for French wheat stocks at the close of the 2010-11 crop years.


If realised, this figure would represent a fall of some 40% in inventories over the season.


The revision followed the release of customs data France's exports gathering pace in November, hitting 1.5 million tonnes for destinations outside the EU.


The rise was led by demand from North African importers denied access to Black Sea supplies.


Indeed, for the first five months of the crop year, which started in July, French shipments to Egypt soared 52% to 1.5 million tonnes and to Algeria by 61% to 1.7 million tonnes, with those to Morocco more than quadrupling to 982,000 tonnes.


The pace of grain exports has forced some French buyers to turn abroad for supplies, with animal feed groups reportedly importing sorghum from the US and corn from Ukraine as alternative, besides feed wheat bought from European neighbours.


Paris milling wheat price for January hit EUR258.75 (US$ 338.790) a tonne last week, a two-year high for a spot contract. The lot stood at EUR255.00 (US$333.83) in lunchtime trade on Wednesday, up 0.4% on the day.


Bruno Le Maire, the French agriculture minister, on Tuesday (Jan 11) rejected restrictions on exports as a means of cooling the market.