The International Grains Council on July 28 projected world production of durum in 2011-12 at 35.5 million tonnes, down 0.4 million tonnes from its June forecast but up 0.8 million tonnes, or 2%, from 34.7 million tonnes in 2010-11. The latter year’s world outturn was the smallest since 34.6 million tonnes was harvested in 2002-03. The recent five-year average world durum outturn was 37 million tonnes.

The I.G.C. indicated the lower forecast for 2011-12 primarily reflected poorer prospects in North America. “Wet and cold weather prevented farmers in Canada from seeding all of their intended area. The projection of output is, therefore, trimmed by 0.2 million tonnes, to 4 million tonnes. The crop in the United States is placed at a five-year low of 1.7 million tonnes, down by 0.2 million tonnes from before.”

The I.G.C. estimated European Union durum production at 8 million tonnes, down 0.3 million tonnes from the June forecast and down 0.9 million tonnes from last year. “The durum harvest in the E.U. was almost completed during July with generally good results reported in Italy, but yields in Spain and Greece were lower than expected, and crops in France were affected by drought.”

Harvesting of generally good crops was completed in North Africa, but untimely rains were reported to have adversely affected quality in some areas, the I.G.C. said. The production estimate for Tunisia was raised slightly to 1.2 million tonnes.

World durum consumption in 2011-12 was projected at 36.7 million tonnes, unchanged from the previous year but down 1.1 million tonnes from 2009-10.

The I.G.C. projected world trade in durum, including semolina, in 2011-12 at 6.7 million tonnes, down 0.2 million tonnes from the June forecast and down 0.6 million tonnes from 7.3 million tonnes in 2010-11. The I.G.C. commented, “Good domestic harvests will contain import needs in North Africa, but purchases by some buyers are likely to be restricted by import costs.”

The I.G.C. forecast world durum ending stocks in 2011-12 at 6.9 million tonnes, down 1.2 million tonnes from 8.1 million tonnes in 2010-11. The I.G.C. pointed to lower world production as the principal factor in the tighter stocks forecast. If the forecast is realized, durum stocks at the end of the current year would be the lowest in four years, including tighter supplies in the three major durum-exporting countries — Canada, the European Union and the United States.