France to become second biggest wheat exporter
France is set to overtake Canada and Russia to become the world's second-ranked wheat exporter this season, as buyers scramble to replace Black Sea supplies lost to drought.
The EU's top wheat grower lifted its forecast for exports of the grain by 400,000 tonnes to 18.3 million tonnes in the year to June, reflecting higher hopes for shipments beyond its neighbouring countries.
Exports to countries outside the EU will hit a record 11.5 million tonnes, a rise of nearly 1.2 million tonnes on-year, French farm office FranceAgriMer said.
The estimate for total shipments places France above Russia and Canada in the export league, which is headed by the US.
Russia has banned grain shipments after its worst drought on record, while Canada suffered an excess of rain in the spring.
"The problem is to find wheat rather than to sell it," FranceAgriMer spokesman Chistian Varnier said. As it is, French wheat stocks are on course to fall by more than one-third over 2010-11 to less than 2.2 million tonnes, with feed wheat imports also likely to rise.
France has sold 1.4 million tonnes of wheat to Egypt through tenders alone in 2010-11, with some 860,000 tonnes shipped so far.
Wheat consumed in human and industrial uses will rise by 11% to a record 7.6 million tonnes, and looks likely to rise further if further capacity comes on line if planned, analysts said.