UN Food and Agriculture Organization - UNFAO

Food Outlook
Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture

No. 3, 1999 - Rome, June 1999


Export prices for Wheat, Rice, maize and sugar

Latest indications continue to point to a reduction in cereal output in 1999 and to a slight deterioration in the cereal supply outlook for the forthcoming 1999/2000 marketing season. If current forecasts materialize, cereal output in 1999 would not be sufficient to meet expected consumption requirements in 1999/2000 and global cereal reserves accumulated in the last three seasons will have to be drawn down.

A major humanitarian emergency persists in Europe, where thousands of refugees have continued to flee from the Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia over the past weeks. Elsewhere, serious food supply problems also persist in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America (see Food Emergency Box on page 4).

FAO's latest forecast puts global cereal output in 1999 at 1 858 million tonnes, 1.3 percent below last year's crop. Wheat output is forecast at 579 million tonnes, 2.6 percent down from 1998 and below trend, that of coarse grains at 891 million tonnes, 1.5 percent down from the previous year and also below trend. Global rice output is tentatively forecast to increase by 1.4 percent to 387 million tonnes (milled basis).

FAO's first forecast of world trade in cereals in 1999/2000 is 212 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes up from 1998/99. Global trade in wheat is expected to increase by about 5 percent to 100 million tonnes, and that for coarse grains by almost 2 percent, to 92 million tonnes. By contrast, for rice, reduced trade is anticipated in response to better production prospects among several major importing countries.

International wheat and coarse grains prices weakened further since March, mostly reflecting continuing sluggish demand on international markets and generally satisfactory growing conditions for 1999 crops. International rice prices fell in April, but recoverd somewhat in May in response to increased import demand.

Global production of pulses is expected to rise in 1999 to 58.5 million tonnes. World imports of pulses are also seen to rise, with larger shipments for direct food consumption more than offsetting reduced trade of feed beans. Prices for lentils and chickpeas are anticipated to be firm in 1999 but prospects for other pulses are mixed.

FAO estimates world sugar production in 1998/99 at 129.6 million tonnes, 6.5 percent up from the previous season. At this level, output would be above demand for the fourth year in succession and stocks would rise further. Reflecting oversupply on international markets, sugar prices have continued to fall sharply this season.

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