The International Grains Council on Oct. 28 forecast 2010-11 world wheat ending stocks at 181 million tonnes, down 2 million tonnes from the council’s previous projection made at the end of September and down 14 million tonnes from 195 million tonnes in 2009-10.

World wheat production in the current year was projected at 644 million tonnes, unchanged from the September forecast but down 33 million tonnes from 677 million tonnes in 2009-10. The I.G.C. said reduced estimates for the United States, Australia and Kazakhstan were offset by higher estimates for the European Union, China and North Africa.

With the Northern Hemisphere harvest completed, eyes turned to Australia and Argentina. While the I.G.C. crop forecast for Argentina held at 12.5 million tonnes, which was up 4.5 million tonnes from 2009-10, the council lowered its forecast for the Australian crop to 23 million tonnes from 24 million tonnes forecast in September.

“Very warm, dry weather continued to stress the wheat crop in Western Australia, further reducing yield potential,” the I.G.C. said. “The state’s outturn is now put at only 4 million tonnes, less than half of last year’s. Warm weather favored maturing crops in Southern Australia and western Victoria. While showers maintained good to excellent crop prospects in most of eastern Australia, they hampered harvesting in southern Queensland, with some reports of quality downgrading.”

The I.G.C. projected world wheat consumption in 2010-11 at a record 658 million tonnes, up 1 million tonnes from the September forecast, mainly because of a higher feed use forecast. World wheat consumption in 2009-10 was 651 million tonnes.

Global wheat use for feed in the current year was forecast at 112.1 million tonnes, up 1.1 million tonnes from the September forecast, including a 0.8-million-tonne increase projected for the European Union.

World wheat consumption for food was forecast at 454.9 million tonnes, up marginally from the September projection.

An interesting note was the I.G.C.’s raising its forecast for wheat use for ethanol production in the European Union to 6.2 million tonnes. World industrial use of wheat was forecast at 21.8 million tonnes, compared with 19.8 million tonnes last year, and included a projected use of 12.4 million tonnes for starch manufacture (12 million tonnes in 2009-10) and 8.7 million tonnes for ethanol (7.1 million tonnes in 2009-10).

The I.G.C. projected world trade in wheat in 2010-11 at 120 million tonnes, up 1 million tonnes from the September forecast but down 7 million tonnes from 2009-10 and compared with a record 136 million tonnes in 2008-09.