UN Food and Agriculture Organization - UNFAO
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Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture

No. 3, June 2000, Rome



Latest indications continue to point to a larger cereal output in 2000. However, based on the current forecasts, total cereal production would not be sufficient to meet expected utilization requirements in 2000/01 and global cereal reserves would be drawn down again next season.

FAO's latest forecast puts global cereal output in 2000 at 1 896 million tonnes, up more than 1 percent from 1999. Output of wheat is forecast at 590 million tonnes, up slightly from the previous year, while that of coarse grains is seen to rise by over 3 percent to 908 million tonnes. The global rice crop is tentatively forecast at 398 million tonnes (milled basis) in 2000, 1 percent less than the record crop last year.

The number of countries facing food emergencies has increased since April. As of end-May 2000, 36 developing countries face serious food shortages, primarily due to drought, but also due to civil strife and floods, particularly in Africa.

FAO's first forecast of world cereal trade in 2000/01 is 221 million tonnes, about 4 million tonnes below the estimated import volume in 1999/2000. Global imports of wheat and coarse grains are forecast to be smaller while rice trade in 2001 is tentatively expected to remain unchanged from this year.

International prices for most cereals remain under pressure. For rice, a declining trend in prices continued amid ample new-crop supplies, combined with generally lack-lustre trade. Maize prices remain mostly unchanged from March but wheat edged slightly upward in May, largely influenced by weather conditions in the United States.

FAO estimates world sugar production in 1999/2000 at 134.3 million tonnes, some 2 percent up from the previous year and above expected demand in the corresponding period. As a result, sugar prices declined through the first six months of the 1999/2000 season, reaching a 14-year low in late February. However, prices rebounded in the past two months, in response to a pick-up in import demand in several major markets, and early forecasts of reduced sugar output in 2000/01.

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