April 14, 2011

France closes in on second place in wheat exports



France affirmed its hold on second place in the global league of wheat exporters, approximating that shipments outside the EU would jump by 29% this season, faster than previously expected.


The EU's leading wheat producing and exporting country changed its approximation for shipments outside the region for a sixth successive month, to a record 12.75 million tonnes.


While the 150,000 tonnes upgrade was partially negated by poorer hopes for exports with other EU states, the value for total shipments for 2010-11 was boosted 100,000 tonnes higher to 19.26 million tonnes.


Exports at that figure would be second only to America's, which the EU has put at 34.7 million tonnes.


The increase follows a period of better-than-expected European exports, which did not, as had been mostly expected, decline last month as had been predicted, as stocks shrink prior to the 2011 harvest.


Indeed, shipments in March as calculated by EU licenses for exports outside the region, hit an average of 375,000 weekly, the highest since October.


France's own shipments of soft wheat outside the EU hit 10.6 million tonnes by the end of last month, an increase of 47% over a year before.


"These unprecedented numbers confirm our record forecast of 12.75 million tonnes," an analyst said.


This week has brought a sudden increase of new demand for wheat imports from North African and Middle East countries, major buyers of French wheat, especially since drought in Black Sea states drove Russia and Ukraine to limit their exports.

Hopes for demand from Algeria, North Africa's second largest wheat importer after Egypt, have been whetted by a government warning of drought in many grain-cultivating areas.


However, Morocco is deemed improbable to return to imports for a while, and possibly until December, after purchasing some one million tonnes, mostly from France, last month.