Upward pace maintained in global flour exports

by Morton Sosland
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LONDON — In its latest quarterly update of prospects for world flour exports in 2014-15, the International Grains Council maintained its second annual increase. The Council placed prospective flour trade in the current crop year at 13,270,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent, up 120,000 from the initial forecast for 2014-15. At the indicated level, global flour trade would be up 6% from 12,560,000 shipped in 2013-14 and 9% above the 12,180,000 tonnes exported in 2012-13. Even with the two seasons of gains, flour trade still fell short of the record volume of 14,560,000 tonnes shipped in 2011-12.

The I.G.C. noted that expanded imports by Indonesia primarily accounted for the expanded volume. In addition, increased takings were noted by Iraq and a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Indonesia was forecast to import 800,000 tonnes of flour in wheat equivalent in 2014-15, contrasted with only 300,000 in the year before. At the increased level, Indonesia was returning to the time when it consistently ranked as a leader in flour importing, with takings in 2010-11 slightly above 1 million tonnes.

In May the government of Indonesia switched from a 20% tariff imposed on flour imports to an annual quota system for major exporting countries.

Rivaling the expected rise in Indonesia takings was the import outlook for Brazil, placed at 700,000 tonnes of wheat equivalent in 2014-15, against 250,000 in the prior season. Brazil’s flour imports, mainly from Argentina, exceeded 900,000 tonnes just a few years ago. Limited Argentine wheat supplies accounted for the Brazil flour import fall in 2013-14.

The total of flout imports by sub-Sahara Africa in 2014-15 was forecast at 2,110,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent, against 2,080,000 in the previous season. Angola, taking 670,000 tonnes, was once again the region’s largest flour importer.

Kazakhstan regained its lead among flour exporting nations in 2014-15, forecast to ship 3,200,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent, up 14% from 2,800,000 in 2013-14 and up 35% from 2,356,000 in 2012-13. In the latter two years, Turkey held the lead among flour shippers, but ranked second in 2014-15 at 2,700,000. Its peak shipments were 3,353,000 tonnes in 2013-14.

Kazakhstan and Turkey together were forecast to account for 44% of world flour exports in the current year. In 2013-14, the two-country share peaked at 49%.

A distant third in flour exporting was the European Union, expected to ship 1,100,000 tonnes of wheat equivalent in 2014-15.

Argentina, at 900,000 tonnes likely in 2014-15, and the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan at 600,000 each, were also among the leading flour shippers.

The United States, China and India were among nations with flour shipments near 400,000 tonnes in terms of wheat.
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