Food Outlook
Global Information and Early Warning System

No. 7/8/9, 1996 Rome, July/August/September 1996 ----------------


Export Prices Graphic

The world cereal supply/demand balance will remain tight in 1996/97. Although latest information continues to point to a recovery in world cereal output in 1996, only a modest replenishment of the reduced global cereal stocks is anticipated and the outlook for global food security would remain delicate for at least another year.

FAO’s latest forecast puts 1996 world cereal production at 1 821 million tons (including milled rice), 5.2 percent up from 1995’s reduced level. Assuming favourable conditions until harvest, global output of wheat is forecast to increase by 4.8 percent to 571 million tons, that for coarse grains by 7.6 percent to 875 million tons, while the rice crop is forecast at 375 million tons (milled), marginally above 1995.

The food supply outlook remains difficult for several countries. The situation has deteriorated in Burundi and remains precarious in parts of Sudan. Several countries in southern Africa continue to require food assistance despite a recovery in production. In Asia, floods in Korea DPR have accentuated food problems. The food supply situation remains difficult in several parts of the CIS.

World trade in cereals in 1996/97 is forecast to decline to 186 million tons, 15 million tons less than in 1995/96. The bulk of this year’s contraction is anticipated in wheat and coarse grains imports both in developed and developing countries.

Export prices for most cereals weakened in August. Wheat prices fell sharply in response to favourable harvest prospects for crops still to be gathered, while maize prices eased mainly in response to a slow-down in trade. International rice prices also fell in August, especially for lower quality types.

World cereal stocks are forecast to increase by 4 percent in 1996/97, to 277 million tons, after the sharp draw-down in the previous season. However, the stock to use ratio will remain well below the minimum safe level for the second consecutive year and stocks in developing countries are forecast to fall.

Global fertilizer use is expected to rise by 5 percent in 1995/96, mainly reflecting high grain prices and an expansion in cereal plantings. The increased demand has resulted in a strengthening of international fertilizer prices, especially for nitrogen.

World fish catch declined slightly in 1995 from the previous year's record, mainly due to lower catches in South America. In 1996 prices of most fish commodities have risen reflecting lower supplies of shrimp, tuna and ground fish.

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