World flour exports prospects rise

by Morton Sosland
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LONDON — Prospects for world trade in wheat flour improved in the past several months, resulting in a boost by the International Grains Council in its forecast of the 2011-12 trade total. The Council placed likely global trade in wheat flour in the 2011-12 crop season at 11.8 million tonnes of wheat equivalent, or 185 million cwts in terms of flour. That is up 180,000 tonnes from the initial forecast made several months ago and would indicate a flour export total unchanged from the prior year’s 11,789,000 tonnes in wheat equivalent.

Considerably larger than the rise from the preliminary forecast for 2011-12 was the increase of 420,000 tonnes made in the estimate of actual global flour trade in 2010-11. For the past crop year, the I.G.C. raised wheat flour volume by 420,000 tonnes from the prior figure.

These increases still left world flour exports below the all-time record of 12,686,000 tonnes attained in 2009-10. World flour exports first exceeded 10 million tonnes of wheat equivalent in 1995-96 and have remained at this level for most of the first decade of the 21st century.

In raising export prospects for 2011-12, the I.G.C. boosted its forecast of flour exports for Turkey and Argentina by 100,000 tonnes each. Kazakhstan continued well in the flour export lead, its shipments this year forecast at 3 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, or nearly 50 million cwts. That outgo would be up 500,000 from the previous season but would be below the record of 3,514,000 tonnes in 2009-10.

Turkey was expected to maintain its second position as a flour exporter, shipping 2.6 million tonnes in 2011-12, up 200,000 from the prior crop year. The European Union was expected to ship 1.2 million tonnes in 2011-12, down 100,000 from 2010-11.

Among importers, one of the world’s leading flour importers, Uzbekistan, was projected to take 200,000 tonnes more in the new season, at 1.4 million tonnes, than previously forecast. This brought this former Soviet Union satellite into line with Afghanistan, which also was forecast to take 1.4 million tonnes of flour in wheat equivalent in 2011-12. Afghanistan’s takings will be up 100,000 from the previous season. Uzbekistan shows the same likely increase.

Iraq, at 1.1 million tonnes, was up 100,000 from the prior year, and was the only other country expected to import at least 1 million tonnes this season. Brazil, at 950,000 tonnes, and Indonesia, at 900,000, were the two other nations within that range of likely flour imports.

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