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Australia forecast to export record 26Mt wheat: USDA

Grain Central, December 10, 2021

GrainCorp largest cargo ever to load at its Newcastle terminal, 66,000t of wheat bound for South-East Asia, left the Carrington berth this week. Photo: GrainCorp

AUSTRALIAN wheat exports in 2021-22 have been forecast by USDA at a record 26 million tonnes (Mt) in its Grain: World Markets and Trade report released overnight.

This is up 1.5Mt from the figure forecast in the November report, and is well above the previous record of 23.9Mt set in 2020-21.

The report said Australia is set to be the world’s third-largest wheat exporter in 2021-22, eclipsing the US and Canada for volume shipped in the current marketing year.

In its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, also released overnight, USDA has forecast Australia’s 2021-22 wheat production at 34Mt, up 2.5Mt from the November estimate, and the forecast for Russian production is now 75.5Mt, up 1Mt from the November figure.

The estimate for Canada’s 2021-22 wheat production has also been increased, up 700,000t to 21.7Mt, but the export forecast at 15Mt is unchanged.

However, the forecast for US wheat exports has dropped 500,000t to 23.5Mt.

Low protein noted

The report said rain throughout the Australian growing season which has bolstered yields has led to lower protein levels in some regions, and untimely rains at harvest in eastern Australia have raised concerns about quality.

“With high-protein wheat scarce amid dismal US and Canadian crops, some importers are scrambling to purchase what is needed for bread and pasta.

“With a large crop and relatively robust beginning stocks, Australia will be able to supply its core Asian markets with both milling and feed-quality wheat.

“However, due to expected quality issues, a significant share of Australia wheat exports may be low protein.”

Competition from India, Argentina seen

USDA said strong global demand for wheat has been a key factor sustaining Australia exports.

“The third and fourth-largest importers, Indonesia and China, are set to remain very strong buyers this year and are heavily dependent upon Australia.

“Indonesia will likely purchase both milling and feed-quality wheat from Australia.

The report said South-east Asian buyers and South Korea will rely more heavily on Australia for feed-quality wheat.

“While Australia faces less competition from the US and Canada in markets such as China, it will face some increased competition from India and Argentina in other markets.”

It said Indian exports have continued to soar, offering an attractively priced alternative for Asian markets as major wheat exporter quotes continue to climb, and now expects India to export 5.25Mt in 2021-22, up 250,000t on the November figure.

“Argentina is expected to have a bumper crop that it will seek to export not only to the Western Hemisphere but also to Asia.”

USDA’s forecast for Argentinian wheat production is unchanged at 20Mt, as is its export number at 13.5Mt, while forecast EU exports at 37Mt are up 500,000t from the November estimate.

USDA has lifted its forecast for 2021-22 global wheat ending stocks by 2.4Mt to 278.2Mt, well above market expectations of 276.3Mt, and forecast global wheat production is now forecast at 777.9Mt, up 2.6Mt on the November figure.

China is now expected to import 9.5Mt of wheat in 2021-22, down 500,000t on the November number, while Iran’s imports are now seen at 7Mt, up 1.5Mt from last month.

Global wheat trade for 2021-22 is up nearly 5 per cent to more than 205Mt.

“Global consumption is up, but global production is relatively flat.”

Source: USDA

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