By FWi Staff

WORLD wheat estimates have remained at 593 million tonnes, and production is on target to be second to the 1997 record. However, the figures have been changed for some countries with significant increases seen for the EC, China, and the US. Declines were seen for Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.

Trade prospects have not altered significantly during the past month, although sales appear to have picked up as several importers took advantage of very low world prices. Increased food aid needs, especially in Asia, have led to some upward adjustments in import estimates. The International Grains Council predicts world trade at 94m tonnes.

Estimated world consumption remains at 602m tonnes and, with the exception of Poland, revised output data for individual countries are likely to be reflected in an increase in carryover stocks.

The IGC forecast for world stocks is 1m tonnes higher at 123m tonnes. Output from the five major exporters is put at 52m tonnes, which is the highest since 1993.

World estimates – wheat
  95-96 96-97 97-98 98-99 (forecast as at 26/08/98) 98-99 (forecast as at 23/09/98)
Production 541 583 609 593 593
Trade 90 96 95 94 94
Consumption 553 579 587 602 602
Stocks 106 110 132 122 123

Severe flood damage to crops in Bangladesh and China, and the exceptional import needs of Indonesia, could potentially affect wheat consumption in Far East Asia. Rice prices have not so far risen dramatically, but falling wheat prices have brought the rice/wheat price ratio to its highest point for several years.

Consumption levels of wheat and rice in some countries in South East Asia are being affected by a number of factors, especially declining consumer purchasing power. So far, there is little evidence of a widespread switch from rice to wheat, but this could occur if rice prices continue to strengthen relative to wheat.