Small gain in prospective global exports of flour

by Morton Sosland
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LONDON — In its second forecast of world flour trade in the 2010-11 season, the International Grains Council raised its earlier estimate by 70,000 tonnes, but still left the total slightly under the flour export record of the prior crop year. The I.G.C. projected world flour exports in 2010-11 at 12,230,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent (nearly 200 million cwts in terms of flour), down 930,000 tonnes, or 7%, from the record of 13,160,000 tonnes shipped in 2009-10. This season’s trade total would fall 101,000 tonnes below 2008-09. Except for these two immediate predecessors, world flour exports in 2010-11 were the largest in history.

The latest revisions by the I.G.C. in world flour shipments showed only relatively small changes on both the export and import side.

Among exporters, the outstanding increase posted was by Russia, where flour exports this season were raised to 500,000 tonnes, contrasted with only 10,000 forecast previously. Russia‘s boosted forecast was about in line with 400,000 shipped in 2009-10 and 665,000 in 2008-09. The flour export expansion was attributed to Russia’s action in banning grain exports, leaving flour without limit.

The world’s leading flour exporter, Kazakhstan, saw its forecast increased by 100,000 tonnes, to 3.3 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, compared with 3.5 million in 2009-10 and 2,733,000 in 2008-09.

Kazakhstan as well as Turkey benefited from continuing strong demand from countries of the Former Soviet Union as well as the Middle East. Turkey, in second place as a flour exporter, was forecast to ship 2.4 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, up 100,000 from the prior total but down slightly from 2.6 million shipped in 2009-10. Turkey exported 2,161,000 tonnes in 2008-09.

In contrast with the small gains for the two leading flour exporters, the I.G.C. lowered its forecast for the European Union. The total of E.U. flour shipments in 2010-11 was placed at 1.3 million tonnes, down 100,000 from the initial projection. The E.U. exported 1,250,000 tonnes in 2009-10 and 1,482,000 in 2008-09.
U.S. flour exports in 2010-11 were projected at 500,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent (8 million cwts in terms of flour), against 550,000 in 2009-10 and 386,000 in 2008-09.

Also matching the U.S. and Russian flour exports was the United Arab Emirates, forecast to ship 500,000 tonnes of flour in wheat equivalent, down from 650,000 in the two prior crop seasons. Likely exports of flour by China were estimated at 400,000 tonnes, down 100,000 from the initial forecast, but in line with 390,000 shipped in 2009-10.

Afghanistan was projected to be the leading importer of flour in 2010-11, taking a total of 1.4 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, compared with 1.8 million in the prior year.

Iraq and Uzbekistan were each projected at 1.2 million tonnes. Iraq was up 100,000 from the initial forecast and compared with 1,250,000 in 2009-10. Uzbekistan’s imports this year would be down from 1.5 million in the preceding season.

Brazil’s imports in 2010-11 were forecast at 900,000 tonnes, compared with 890,000 in 2009-10 and 871,000 in 2008-09. Its takings account for Argentina’s high rank as a flour exporter, with shipments in 2010-11 forecast at 1.3 million tonnes, about unchanged from the two prior seasons.

Tajikistan was expected to take 600,000 tonnes, against 500,000 in 2009-10.

Another leading destination was Indonesia, with its imports in 2010-11 forecast at 800,000 tonnes, down from 1 million in the prior season.

In Africa, Libya was expected to be the top destination, at 520,000 tonnes, against 470,000 in 2009-10, followed by Angola at 500,000 tonnes, unchanged from the previous crop year.

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