March 5, 2004
US Wheat Sales Substantially Higher Than In Recent Years
U.S. wheat export sales to date already exceed total annual sales for each of the last five years, the U.S. Wheat Associates said in a newsletter released Thursday.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures also released Thursday, U.S. wheat sales are running 42% ahead of last year's historically slow pace. Meanwhile, for the same period at 39 weeks into the marketing year, wheat shipments inspected for export are running 30% above the previous year's pace.
The season Egypt returned to its position as the largest U.S. wheat buyer, after slipping back to the sixth largest last season, said U.S. Wheat Associates. So far 2003-04 U.S. wheat sales to Egypt total 3.63 million metric tons.
Sales to Nigeria are already the highest ever at 1.965 million tons. Elsewhere in Subsaharan Africa, sales to South Africa of 414,000 tons so far this year, are the most U.S. wheat that nation has purchased in 10 years.
As of Feb. 26, sales to Mexico of 2.48 million tons are close to matching the record high.
Sales to Europe are more than twice last year's sales. Italy and Spain lead with purchases of 918,000 and 499,000, respectively, in Western Europe, where sales now total nearly 1.8 million tons. Romania, which is a non- traditional importer, has already purchased over half a million tons of U.S. wheat so far this year.
Recently China, which has been absent from the U.S. wheat market in recent years, has stepped up its buying of U.S. wheat. China's 2003-04 U.S. wheat purchases now tally 1.375 million tons compared to just 78,800 tons for the same time last year. So far only 200,300 tons of the 2003-04 China business has been shipped. China also has another 1.475 million already on the books for the marketing year that begins June 1.
Japan, which was the largest customer last year, is still tracking last year's pace, purchasing 2.81 million tons so far this year. Korea continues, year in and year out, to rank either fifth or sixth in U.S. wheat purchases and this year's purchases are in line at 1.2 million so far.
Cuba has also purchased a record 449,200 tons of U.S. wheat so far in the 2003-04 marketing year.