FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook, November 1997

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REVIEW OF 1996/97

World utilization of cereals in 1996/97 is estimated to have risen above its long-term (1882/83-1995/96) upward trend, to 1 852 million tons, some 3 percent more than in 1995/96. All of this expansion is due to increased feed use, mostly in response to lower international grain prices in 1996/97 compared to the previous season.

Global food consumption of cereals (excluding other direct uses, such as alcohol, starches and sweeteners) in 1996/97 is estimated to have increased by 2.1 percent, or 19 million tons, to 936 million tons. At this level, global per caput food consumption, at about 163 kilograms would be slightly above that in 1995/96. All of the increase in food consumption was in the developing countries, due essentially to good 1996 harvests in many parts of Asia and a recovery of output also in Africa.

By far the most significant change in global cereal utilization in 1996/97 involved feed usage, which is estimated to have resumed its expansion and increased by 4 percent, or 25 million tons, to 648 million tons, close to the record set two years earlier. A recovery in the levels of feeding in the developed countries has been largely responsible for this development. Feed use in these countries is estimated to have risen by 22 million tons, or 5.4 percent, from 1995/96. In the United States, in particular, feed use of grains is estimated to have returned to near record levels, increasing by about 21 percent to around 166 million tons. The feeding of grains in the EC has also shown a considerable increase as a result of an easing of internal prices. By contrast, feed use in the CIS has continued to decline because of reduced animal numbers.

1995/96  1996/97  1997/98 f’cast
(. . . . . . million tons . . . . . .) 
Total utilization 
World  1 796  1 852  1 888
Developing countries  1 081  1 109  1 127
Developed countries  715  743  761
Food consumption 1/ 
World  917  936  950
Developing countries  751  770  782
Developed countries  166  166  168
Feed use 
World  623  648  667
Developing countries  215  218  227
Developed countries  408  430  440
Other uses 2/ 
World  256  267  271
Developing countries  115  120  118
Developed countries  142  147  153

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

Cereal feed use in the developing countries in 1996/97 is also estimated to have increased by 1.4 percent, or 3 million tons, to 218 million tons. Most of the estimated gains in feeding have occurred among the fast growing economies of the Far East, with the exception of the Province of Taiwan which experienced an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Increased feed use is also estimated in North Africa, where most countries benefited from larger crops in 1996.

Other uses of cereals (including seed, industrial use and post-harvest losses) in 1996/97 are estimated to have reached 267 million tons, some 4 percent, or almost 11 million tons, 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 largely responsible for the higher use of cereals for industrial purposes.

1995/96  1996/97  1997/98 
(. . . . . kg. per head . . . . .) 
Developing countries 




Developed countries 




TOTAL  161.4  162.8  162.9
Low-income food-deficit countries 
(exclud. China and India) 
174.0  175.8  175.6
(151.8)  (152.9)  (152.1)
Wheat  69.8  69.8  70.5
Coarse grains  33.1  33.7  33.2
Rice (milled)  58.5  59.3  59.1



Early indications for 1997/98 point to a further increase in world utilization of cereals by 1.9 percent, or 36 million tons, to 1 888 million tons. At this level, global utilization would be above the long-term trend for the second consecutive year. Food consumption of cereals in 1997/98 is forecast to rise by 1.5 percent, or 14 million tons, to 950 million tons. Among the developing countries, generally good crop prospects in 1997 are expected to sustain per caput food consumption levels in most countries. Exceptions would be a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia affected by civil strife and natural disasters leading to reduced production. In the developed countries, total food consumption of cereals is forecast to rise only marginally.

1995/96  1996/97  1997/98 f’cast
( . . . . . millions tons . . . . . ) 
Developing countries  324  332  342
Developed countries  240  248  254
World  564  580  597
Food  396  402  411
Feed  92  101  104
Other uses 1 76  77  82
Developing countries  402  415  418
Developed countries  458  477  488
World  860  892  906
Food  188  194  194
Feed  522  539  554
Other uses 1 150  158  158
RICE (milled) 
Developing countries  355  362  367
Developed countries  17  18  18
World  372  380  385
Food  332  340  345
Feed  9
Other uses 1 31  32  31

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

The largest change in global cereal utilization in 1997/98 is expected in feed use, which is forecast to rise by about 3 percent, or 19 million tons, to 667 million tons, a record level, and about 4 percent above the long-term trend. The strongest growth is expected to occur among the developing countries, where feed use is forecast to expand by over 4 percent, or 9 million tons, to 227 million tons. The bulk of the increase is anticipated in the Far East, primarily in China, in spite of a reduction in the estimate for maize production in 1997, and in South America, due largely to a bumper maize crop in Argentina.

Feed use in developed countries, which accounts for two-thirds of the world total, is forecast to continue to expand in 1997/98, by over 2 percent, or 10 million tons, to 440 million tons. Bumper coarse grain crops and lower prices are likely to encourage greater use of grains for animal feed in the EC and the United States. Feed use of coarse grains in these countries is estimated at 104 million tons and 169 million tons respectively, together accounting for over 40 percent of the global total. For the first time since the early 1990s, feed use in the CIS is forecast to stop falling and it may even increase slightly from the previous season. Bumper crops in Belarus, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine are expected to raise feed usage in these republics.

Other uses of cereals in 1997/98 are forecast to be largely unchanged at the world level. While industrial uses of cereals are likely to continue to expand in most developed and many developing countries, post-harvest losses may decline in the developing countries, in absolute terms, in line with lower output estimated for 1997.

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