UN Food and Agriculture Organization - UNFAO
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global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

No. 1, February 2001, Rome




World cereal output in 2000 is provisionally estimated at 1 852 million tonnes, up slightly from the forecast in November. The forecast for global cereal utilization has also been adjusted upward to 1 909 million tonnes. The shortfall in production will have to be met by a significant drawdown of global cereal stocks.

The estimates of cereal stocks in China (Mainland) have been revised substantially upward for all years beginning in 1980, leading to significantly higher figures for global stocks than were reported previously. However, the revisions, although large in absolute terms, only represent statistical adjustments in the historical supply and consumption series in China and, therefore, have negligible or no impact on the market fundamentals (see box on page 18).

Latest information indicates that over 60 million people face food emergencies throughout the world due to natural hazards and man-made disasters (see box on page 5).

World cereal trade in 2000/01 (July/June) is now forecast at 236 million tonnes, some 2 million tonnes less than was reported in November but slightly higher than the previous year's volume. Most of the increase is expected to be derived from larger import demand for coarse grains.

International wheat and coarse grains prices made small gains since November, but rice prices were generally lower. Large supplies in exporting countries continue to weigh on cereal markets.

Prices of oilseeds and products are forecast to continue moving in opposite directions in 2000/01. While anticipated ample supplies of oils and fats, relative to demand, will likely limit the chances for a sustained recovery in prices for oils/fats, for oilseeds, oilcakes and meals, the tightening supply/demand situation could result in further price recovery. Trade in oilseed products is expected to expand further, but at a lower rate than in the last two seasons.

The growth in global meat output slowed in 2000, mostly in response to smaller production in developed countries. Influenced by market disruptions caused by outbreaks in animal disease in major exporting countries, world meat trade grew at less than 2 percent. International trade prospects for 2001, while expected to expand, are likely to be influenced by continuing BSE concerns, a factor which could also weigh on beef prices during 2001.

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