By Olivia Cooper

WORLD coarse grain production and stocks are higher than last months forecast, says the International Grains Council.

In its October report, the IGC raised coarse grain stocks by 5m tonnes, mainly due to a big increase in maize production in the US, more than offsetting lower barley output in Canada and the EC.

Wheat production was revised up by just 2m tonnes, following further increases in central and eastern European countries.

US wheat prices have gained $9/t (6/t) since October 1, following good export figures and rumours of Chinese buying interest.

This makes EU prices Euro3-5/t (2-3) cheaper than US wheat, and Brussels has granted 178,000t of wheat for export at zero refund in the past fortnight – the first licenses given since August 23.

Better world prices have allowed UK wheat values to improve, and strong consumer demand has overshadowed our lack of competitiveness on export markets. April – June prices have risen by 3-3.50/t, to about 80/t ex-farm.

DEFRAs supply and demand figures have had little effect on the market, says the HGCA.

“The recent strength in the market is as much about international factors as it is about our own supply and demand,” says senior economist, Gerald Mason.

He adds that international markets are “notoriously fickle”. “Layer on top the currency effect and other random events and it is clear to see that a sensible sales or purchase plan is key to survival.”

Coarse Grains

Figures are shown in million tonnes

  98/99 99/00 00/01 September
Forecast
(01/02)
October
Forecast
(01/02)
Production 894 883 865 869 872
Trade 94 102 109 105 105
Consumption 876 887 887 898 898
Stocks 199 195 173 143 148
5 major exporters* (138) (129) (131) (102) (102)

* Argentina, Australia, Canada, EC, United States