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Abundance of cereals, 6% ahead of the 2011 record, says FAO latest forecast

Friday, December 13th 2013 - 08:59 UTC
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Larger supplies and lower prices are expected to boost feed use of cereals in 2013/14, especially of maize Larger supplies and lower prices are expected to boost feed use of cereals in 2013/14, especially of maize

FAO’s latest forecast for world cereal production in 2013 has been revised upward marginally (2 million tons) since November to a new high of almost 2 500 million tons (including rice in milled terms), 8.4% more than last year and some 6% above the previous record in 2011. The latest revision mostly reflects adjustments to maize output estimates in the United States, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which had become firmer towards the completion of the harvests.

 Based on latest figures, the overall increase in world cereal output this year comprises a rise of 7.8% in wheat production, of 12% for coarse grains and of only 1% for rice. Early prospects for the winter wheat crops already planted in the northern hemisphere, to be harvested in 2014, are mostly favorable. Among the major producers, areas are tentatively estimated to have increased in the EU, China, the United States and India, while reductions are reported in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Although many of the 2014 wheat crops across the world will not be planted until next year, these early indications suggest that, overall; wheat plantings for the coming harvest could increase slightly compared to this year.

The FAO forecast for global cereal utilization in 2013/14 has been lowered to 2 413 million tons, slightly below the November forecast but still 4% higher than in 2012/13. The projected growth in world utilization of cereals in 2013/14 concerns mostly food and feed, which are expected to increase by 1.7% and 6.3% respectively compared to the previous season.

Larger supplies and lower prices are expected to boost feed use of cereals in 2013/14, especially of maize. Total feed use of maize in 2013/14 is projected to reach 546 million tons, 8.5% higher than in 2012/13, with most of this growth to occur in China (up 9.6% or 13 million tons from 2012/13), following another record crop, and in the United States (up 20% or 22 million tons), driven by this year’s recovery in production to a record level. The forecast increase in the food use of cereals in 2013/14 is largely in line with world population growth.

World cereal stocks are predicted to increase to 572 million tons by the close of the 2014 crop seasons, 13.4%, or nearly 68 million tons, more than in the previous year. This forecast is almost 9 million tons higher than reported in November, reflecting upward revisions to ending stocks of wheat and coarse grains, while ending rice inventories were reduced slightly.

The sharp expansion in world cereal stocks this season would result in the global cereal stocks-to-use ratio reaching 23.5%, well above the historical low of 18.4% registered in 2007/08. The ratio for coarse grains is expected to improve the most, from the historical low of 14% to a more comfortable level of nearly 18%. The recovery would be mainly sustained by a sharp rebound in maize inventories in the United States following this year’s record harvest. Global wheat stocks are also heading toward a significant recovery, while rice inventories are expected to increase for the tenth consecutive year, leading to an all-time high stocks-to-use ratio of nearly 36%.

The FAO forecast for world cereal trade in 2013/14 has been raised by 3.4 million tons since November, to 317.8 million tons, now 2.7%, or 8.4 million tons, higher than the volume of trade in 2012/13. This month’s upward revision mainly reflects higher anticipated maize exports from Ukraine, boosted by this year’s record domestic production and strong world demand.

World trade in coarse grains is forecast at 137.5 million tons, 2.5 million tons more than was previously reported and 5.3 million tons higher than in 2012/13. World wheat trade in 2013/14 is put at 142 million tons, up 2.3 million tons from 2012/13 and unchanged from November but the forecast for trade in rice in 2014 has been raised by 900 000 tons to 38.3 million tons, now 800 000 tons higher than in the previous year and almost matching the all-time high achieved in 2012.

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