FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook 97/01

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The forecast for cereal carryovers for crop years ending in 1997 has been raised by 9 million tons since the previous report in November to nearly 294 million tons, 32 million tons, or 12 percent, above their reduced opening volume. As production estimates become more definite, it is becoming evident that this year’s anticipated stock build-up would be largely concentrated in the major exporting countries. Their combined cereal carryovers are expected to increase for the first time in three years and rise sharply above their depleted opening levels, approaching about 40 percent of the world total, compared to 30 percent at the beginning of the season. By contrast, total cereal stocks held by other countries, particularly developing countries, is forecast to decline for the third consecutive year. Most of the anticipated decline, however, would be concentrated in only few countries. Globally, while the ratio of end-of season stocks to trend utilization in 1997/98 would approach 16 percent, which would be an improvement from 14 percent in the previous season, it would still be below the 17-18 percent range the FAO Secretariat considers the minimum necessary to safeguard world food security.


Crop year ending in:

1995 1996 estim. 1997 f'cast

(. . . . million tons . . . .)
Wheat 117.2 105.6 117.5
Coarse grains 146.8 102.7 124.4
Rice (milled) 54.8 53.8 51.7
TOTAL 318.8 262.0 293.6
of which:

Main exporters 109.0 76.7 115.7
Others 209.9 185.4 177.9


The forecast for wheat stocks for crop years ending in 1997 has been revised upwards to over 117 million tons, 12 million tons higher than their reduced opening level and 6 million tons higher than was reported earlier. The latter increase is mainly due to upward revisions in the forecast of wheat carryovers in Canada, China and the EC. This year’s most significant stock build-up is expected in the EC, where, as a result of bumper crops and weak export demand, carryovers could rise to 15 million tons, about 4 million tons above their opening levels. In Canada, this year’s large domestic production is expected to result in an increase in that country’s carryovers to 9.5 million tons, or 3 million tons above their opening levels. Reduced world trade and port handling delays which have reduced the normal pace of shipments from Canada are among the other factors for the expected stock build-up this season. In Australia, a record crop is forecast to result in a sizeable increase in carryover stocks. Only a modest recovery to about 14 million tons is anticipated for this year’s ending stocks of the United States, which would be close to the reduced opening level at the start of the 1995/96 season mainly due to continuing strong domestic demand coupled with only a modest increase in the 1996 production. Some replenishment is also expected in several major importing countries, such as China, Egypt, Morocco and the Russian Federation. By contrast, a decline in production is likely to result in smaller carryovers in Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Romania and the Ukraine.

Most of this year’s likely increase in global cereal stocks would result from a significant recovery in coarse grains inventories, largely led by bumper crops in several countries. The forecast for world coarse grain stocks for crop years ending in 1997 has been raised this month by another 2 million tons to 124 million tons, about 22 million tons, or over 20 percent, above their reduced opening levels. The increase in this month’s forecast stems from higher production estimates, mainly for the United States and the EC. As a result of a much smaller export demand this year, carryovers in the United States are now forecast to increase to 35 million tons, up 21 million tons from last season. In the EC, despite the expected strong growth in domestic utilization and a near doubling of exports, total coarse grain stocks could reach 16 million tons, 3 million tons above their opening levels. By contrast, coarse grain inventories are likely to be drawn down sharply in several countries, particularly Bulgaria, Colombia, Brazil, and the Ukraine, mainly on account of strong domestic demand, and in some cases, production shortfalls.

FAO's forecast for global rice stocks at the end of the marketing seasons in 1997 is little changed at just under 52 million tons, about 2.1 million tons below 1996. At this level, the ratio of global rice stocks to projected consumption would be 13.6 percent, well below the 19 percent stock to consumption ratio that prevailed in 1990s. The bulk of the reduction is projected to be in Asia were stocks are forecast to fall to about 46 million tons, 1.8 million tons less than closing stocks in 1996.

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