FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook March/April 1997

Previous Page TOC Next Page



The forecast for world cereal utilization in 1996/97 points to an increase of 2.3 percent, or almost 41 million tons, from the previous year to 1 833 million tons, which is on the long-term trend. This outlook reflects a partial recovery in global feed use and a further modest rise in food consumption. The developing countries are expected to continue to expand cereal utilization, mostly for food, by 20 million tons, or nearly 2 percent, to 1 100 million tons, accounting for about half of the global rise in cereal utilization. The other half of the increase, mostly for feed use, is anticipated to occur among the developed countries, where total utilization could rise to 732 million tons, or 2.9 percent above last year. For individual cereals, the largest increase compared to the previous year is forecast for the use of coarse grains, by some 2.5 percent to 876 million tons, which is still below the record set in 1994/95. As for the major food grains, rice consumption could rise by 2.1 percent to 381 million tons, while wheat consumption is expected to expand by about 2 percent and to reach 576 million tons.

Global food use of cereals (excluding indirect uses, such as for alcohol, starches and sweeteners) is now forecast at around 941 million tons in 1996/97, which represents about one-half of total utilization. The increase of 19 million tons, or 2.1 percent over the previous year, would put the current estimate of food consumption slightly above the long-term trend. The forecast would also result in a rise in the annual per caput food use of cereals by 1 kilogramme to 162.5 kilogrammes, virtually all among the developing countries as a group. Similarly, the increase in per caput cereal food consumption in the low-income, food-deficit countries would also be about one kilogramme and reach 176 kilogrammes in 1996/97.


1994/95 1995/96 1996/97 f’cast

(. . . . . . million tons . . . . . .)
Total utilization

World 1 801 1 792 1 833
Developing countries 1 049 1 080 1 100
Developed countries 752 712 732
Food consumption 1/

World 905 922 941
Developing countries 741 757 774
Developed countries 164 165 167
Feed use

World 647 620 634
Developing countries 200 210 212
Developed countries 447 410 422
Other uses 2/

World 249 250 257
Developing countries 107 114 114
Developed countries 141 137 143

Note: Total computed from unrounded data.
1/ For direct human consumption.
2/ Other uses include seed, industrial uses and post harvest losses.

Total food consumption of cereals in the developing countries is anticipated to rise by 2.4 percent, or 18 million tons of the 19 million tons globally, to about 774 million tons in 1996/97. Several countries in Africa partially or fully recovered from the previous season's poor crops which should improve their consumption of cereals for food, in particular in the northern and southern sub-regions. Good crops in 1996 are likely to maintain or improve the per caput consumption of cereals in North Africa, especially for wheat and in southern Africa where another good coarse grain crops is expected this year. However, some countries in Africa, particularly in the eastern sub-region, continue to face serious shortfalls in cereal supplies, and thus consumption, largely as a result of civil strife and refugee problems.

Generally good growing conditions in Asian countries in 1996 are likely to have raised local food supplies and contributed to maintaining annual per caput food consumption in 1996/97 at over 180 kilograms for the developing countries of the region, which is substantially above the world average. In China, the largest producing and consuming country of cereals in Asia, the second consecutive year of bumper cereal crops in 1996 should maintain per caput cereal consumption and allow for some exports of maize. While India had a smaller wheat harvest in 1996 compared to the previous season, it is expected to maintain consumption and to control domestic prices by importing up to 2 million tons of wheat. A serious food emergency situation persists in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea where two years of extreme weather conditions have sharply reduced cereal supplies so that per caput food consumption of cereals in 1996/97 is expected to continue to be some 20 percent below levels of the early 1990s. In Iraq per caput food consumption of cereal should begin to recover this year.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, food consumption this season should increase by 2.5 percent to over 65 million tons, as overall grain production in 1996 was average to above average, in particular in Argentina, but also in major cereal deficit countries of Brazil and Mexico.


1994/95 1995/96 1996/97

(. . . . . kg. per head . . . . .)
Developing countries 170.7 171.1 172.2
Developed countries 129.1 128.2 128.9
TOTAL 161.2 161.4 162.5
Wheat 70.0 70.0 70.2
Coarse grains 33.3 33.3 33.8
Rice (milled) 58.0 58.1 58.5
Low-income food-deficit countries 174.2 174.5 175.7
(exclud. China and India) (151.0) (151.3) (152.8)


Total and per caput food consumption among developed countries are forecast to rise slightly in 1996/97 in spite of tight supplies in some countries. Poor wheat crops in Bulgaria and Romania will require larger than normal imports in order to maintain per caput food consumption. The economies in a number of the CIS republics continue to be depressed and consumers are continuing to switch from grain-based products to less expensive foods. For the CIS as a whole, per caput food consumption of cereals is estimated to be 4-5 percent below levels recorded just before the break-up of the former USSR. A recovery in total and per caput cereal food use is expected in South Africa following a bumper wheat crop and a recovery in its maize production after a severe drought the previous season.

Global feed use of cereals, which represents about one-third of total world utilization, is forecast to expand by 14.5 million tons, or 2.3 percent, to 634 million tons in 1996/97 following a sharp downturn in the previous year, largely due to high international grain prices. The forecast increase in feed use would be about half of the estimated drop in 1995/96. Total feed use would still be about one percent below the long-term trend. Most of the partial recovery in feed use is expected in the developed countries, whereas in the developing countries it is forecast to grow by only 2.5 million tons, or 1.2 percent. Wheat and coarse grains used for feed are likely to rise by 5.2 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Among the developed countries the recovery in feed use this year is largely concentrated in the EC and the United States. Lower international and domestic prices compared to the previous season, in combination with anticipated large domestic surpluses due to limited export prospects and record grain production in 1996, are expected to encourage grain feeding in the EC in 1996/97. Among other European countries, cereal feeding is also forecast to expand in Hungary; it may contract, however, in Bulgaria and Romania, all of which can be traced to the results of the 1996 grain harvests. While wheat feeding in the United States is forecast by the Government to rise in 1996/97, most of the growth in feed use will likely come from coarse grains which should rebound by about 10 percent, or 13.5 million tons. The major exception to the growth in feed use among the developed countries is in the CIS where, for the fifth consecutive year, feeding is expected to fall in 1996/97. This season the use of cereals for feed is expected to decline by almost 17 percent, or 12 million tons, due to a combination of factors, including below-average coarse grain crops in 1996, a continuing fall in livestock inventories and limited foreign exchange for imports.


1994/95 1995/96 1996/97 f’cast

( . . . . . millions tons . . . . . )

Developing countries 312 324 328
Developed countries 241 240 248
World 553 564 576
Food 393 400 407
Feed 94 93 98
Other uses 1/ 66 72 71

Developing countries 387 400 411
Developed countries 493 455 465
World 881 855 876
Food 187 190 196
Feed 544 518 528
Other uses 1/ 150 146 152
RICE (milled)

Developing countries 349 356 361
Developed countries 18 17 19
World 367 373 381
Food 325 332 339
Feed 9 9 8
Other uses 1/ 32 32 33

Note: Total computed from unrounded data.
1/ Other uses include seed, industrial uses and post harvest losses.

Modest growth is forecast in the use of cereals for feed in all regions of the developing countries for 1996/97. There are small gains anticipated for cereal feeding among the two largest feed users in Asia, China and the Republic of Korea. In spite of the increase in China's overall feed use this year, recent reports have indicated a potentially large reduction in feed use in the Province of Taiwan because of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, which could lead to considerable loss in the pig population. Authorities have banned the export of pork meat due to the disease which will in turn reduce the demand for feed, especially for maize. While the extent of the effect on feed use is expected to be relatively minor this season, it could be substantial in the next few years as the disease is controlled by herd slaughter. Among other large cereal feed users, reductions in grain usage are expected in the Islamic Republic of Iran as feeding is being reduced to more normal levels following last year's exceptional high levels of wheat feeding on farms. Small increases in feed use are also forecast for Africa, in particular in North Africa following a good crop season. A relatively small decline in feed use is predicted in Latin America and the Caribbean, especially in Brazil, the region's largest cereal feed user.

Other uses of cereals, such as for seed, industrial purposes and post-harvest losses, are forecast in 1996/97 at 257 million tons, some 3 percent above the previous year. The continued strong growth in the demand for processed foods and beverages, especially in the developed countries but also in some developing countries, is likely to stimulate the use of barley and other grains which can be malted or distilled. Improved harvests also tend to result in higher post-harvest losses, in particular among the developing countries whose overall cereal output rose by over 4 percent in 1996.

Previous Page TOC Next Page