Small decrease in global flour exports leaves total above prior crop year

by Morton Sosland
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LONDON — In its quarterly revision of estimated world trade in wheat flour in the 2014-15 season, the International Grains Council cut the prospective export total by 840,000 tonnes, but forecast an aggregate still larger than in the previous crop year. For the current crop year, the I.G.C. estimated global flour exports at 12,530,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent, compared with 13,370,000 previously anticipated. The revised total for 2014-15 compares with shipments of 12,460,000 in 2013-14 and 12,180,000 in 2012-13. Global flour exports in 2011-12 established a new record of 14,560,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent.

At the current forecast, global flour trade would be equivalent to nearly 200 million cwts of flour.

Exports of durum semolina continue to be excluded from the I.G.C. forecast of flour exports. That outgo was estimated at 360,000 tonnes in 2014-15, against 350,000 in each of the two previous seasons. Adding this to the I.G.C. outgo results in total shipments of 12,890,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent, compared with 12,810,000 in 2013-14.

The largest change in actual flour exports was projected for Kazakhstan, the leading flour shipper. That country was projected to clear 2,900,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent in 2014-15, down 300,000 from the prior estimate “because of poorer than expected wheat production.” The Council noted, “This has a knock-on effect on projected sales by a number of countries that ship secondary processed products derived from Kazakhstan wheat grain imports.”

At the currently expected level, Kazakhstan will account for 23.1% of world flour exports, up from 22.2% in the preceding season and 19.3% in 2012-13.

Turkey, which in 2013-14 had the lead in flour exporting, saw its prospects in 2014-15 fall to 2,450,000 tonnes from 2,700,000 previously estimated. Turkey’s estimated flour exports this season were down 29% from the prior year’s outgo of 3,363,000. This decrease was seen as likely even though shortfalls in imports of wheat from Kazakhstan will be made up in part by larger takings from Russia and Ukraine. Turkey’s share of global flour exports in 2014-154 was now placed at 19.6%, compared with 26.9% in 2013-14.

Sri Lanka’s flour export outlook, totally dependent on imported wheat, fell to 100,000 tonnes, contrasted with its recent peak of 408,000 in 2010-11.

European Union flour exports for 2014-15 were estimated at 1.1 million tonnes, against 920,000 in the previous season. The Council said that “tight supplies of high quality wheat are seen restricting any increase in sales.”

Argentina’s flour export prospects were maintained at 900,000 tonnes, reflecting a sharp gain from 324,000 in 2013-14 when a poor crop limited availabilities. An improved wheat harvest was credited with this year’s increase.

Afghanistan, the world’s leading flour importer, showed a 100,000-tonne reduction in expected takings from prior estimates, but takings would be nearly unchanged from 2013-14. Afghanistan imports were forecast at 1.2 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, against 1,248,000 in 2013-14. While takings from Kazakhstan may be reduced, cross-border shipments from Pakistan were seen as sustaining volume.

Among leading importers, sharp gains were in prospect for Brazil, at 650,000 tonnes, against 254,000 in 2013-14; Syria, 700,000 tonnes, against 473,000, and Indonesia, 700,000 versus 311,000 in the prior crop year.
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