By FWi staff

THE global wheat market is beginning to harden because of problems in China and Russia, according to the London-based International Grains Council (IGC).

“Although the global supply and demand outlook remained largely bearish, news of major flooding in China and a significant cut in Russias crop forecast gave a slightly harder edge to a market otherwise almost bereft of buying interest,” says the IGCs annual report.

The Russian harvest is continuing more slowly than last year, and intense heat and drought is affecting 37 of Russias 89 growing regions. China is expected to produce 109 million tonnes of wheat this year compared with 123m tonnes in 1997.

World wheat production is forecast at 593m tonnes for 1998, just below the record 609m tonnes last year.

European Union annual production is forecast to rise 8.3m tonnes to 103.4m tonnes. Production in the United States is forecast to increase by 0.2m tonnes to 69m tonnes.

Global wheat consumption is forecast at 602m tonnes compared with 588m tonnes the previous year. World trade will remain almost static at 94.2m tonnes compared with 94.9m tonnes in 1997.