UN Food and Agriculture Organization - UNFAO

Food Outlook

Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture
No. 4, 1999 - Rome, September 1999


The outlook for 1999 cereal production has improved slightly since June, due mainly to better crop prospects in Asia and North America. World production, however, will not be sufficient to meet anticipated consumption requirements and global stocks will need to be drawn down.

Food emergencies persist throughout the world, mainly due to the effects of adverse weather, civil strife and chronic economic problems. Currently, 37 countries face food emergencies of varying degrees, with an increasing number of people requiring food assistance. Latest estimates put cereal food aid shipments in 1998/99 at 9.5 million tonnes, 3 million tonnes above last year and the highest level since 1993/94.

FAO's latest forecast for 1999 cereal production is 1 870 million tonnes, 0.7 percent below last year and 18 percent lower than the record output in 1997. Wheat production is put at 579 million tonnes, almost 3 percent down on last year, while coarse grain output is anticipated at around 899 million tonnes, some 7 million tonnes below last year's crop. Global rice production is forecast at a record 585 million tonnes (392 million tonnes milled), 2 percent higher than last year.

World trade in cereals in 1999/2000 is forecast to increase by 2 percent to 218 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes more than in the previous year. Global trade in wheat and coarse grains is expected to rise due mostly to higher demand in Asia. Trade in rice is expected to remain similar to last year, the second highest on record.

International cereal prices remain mostly below the previous year, but wheat prices firmed up slightly in recent months, supported by increased trade activity. By contrast, coarse grains and rice prices in international markets fell, mostly in response to good crop prospects and weaker international demand, respectively.

Prospects for trade and price recovery in the world meat market remain uncertain as the effects of the 1998 global financial crisis extend into 1999. Global production is forecast to increase 2 percent as feed prices remain low.

Record 1998/99 production of oilcrops is confirmed by latest estimates, exceeding the expected increase in demand. Stocks of oilcrop products are likely to increase and prices to fall.

World fish production recovered in 1999 due to high tuna and illex catches. With the phasing out of El Niño, the small pelagic fisheries in Chile and Peru are recovering. The prices of tuna and groundfish are anticipated to improve.

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