Economic and Social Department

 global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

 food outlook
No. 2 Rome, June 2004

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Cereal Supply/Demand Roundup

Box on China Global Cereal Markets


Box on EU Enlargement and FAO Cereal Trade Estimates

Coarse Grains


Ocean Freight Rates


Meat and Meat Products

Milk and Milk Products

Oilseeds, Oils and Oilmeals





Favourable production outlook for 2004


Prospects for world cassava production in 2004 are favourable and the output is likely to remain around last year’s record of 192 million tonnes. In Africa the major producing region, where the crop plays a critical role for food security, preliminary crop estimates from some of the larger producing countries point to a generally satisfactory production, close to the 2003 level of 103 million tonnes. In Angola, the 2004 cassava output is forecast to rise 16 percent from last year reflecting an increase in the area planted and generally good weather during the main growing season. Flooding problems may have hindered cassava cultivation in western parts of Zambia, but overall production prospects remain satisfactory. The outlook is also generally favourable in Tanzania where the Government announced plans to increase cultivation in order to raise exports of starch and flour.

FAO initiatives to distribute fast-growing and disease-resistant cuttings in Rwanda and in the Central African Republic could result in increases in output in 2004. A consortium of international agencies has announced a US$11 million donation to support Nigeria’s programme to expand output for commercial usage. Similarly, production in Ghana and Uganda could rise, following large scale investments in cassava infrastructure, particularly at the processing level. In Mozambique and Malawi, dry weather in the first half of the rainy season did not affect cassava crops. This together with the promotion of cassava cultivation by government and international organizations have led to expansions in their 2004 cassava crops of 4 and 22 percent respectively.

In Asia, which last year accounted for much of the growth in global output, cassava production is expected to rise further in response to high domestic and export prices, especially in Thailand and Indonesia. The 2004 production outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean is favourable reflecting good prospects in Brazil. Following a 50 percent increase in the cassava support price, the country’s output is forecast to increase 8 percent to 23.9 million tonnes.

World cassava trade to expand in 2004

International trade in cassava products in 2004 is forecast to expand, based on the pace of Thai shipments to date. For the first 4 months of the year, Thai exports of pellets and chips increased by more than 50 percent over the same period last year. The bulk of shipments have been to the EU, which from January to the first week in May 2004, has released import certificates for approximately 1.15 million tonnes of cassava pellets, about 600 000 tonnes more than in the corresponding period in 2002. However, the prospect of a recovery in the EU grain crop this season, coupled with soaring prices of soybean in recent months, could dampen this exceptional start.

International quotations of cassava products in 2004 continued their surge from late last year. Over the period January-April 2004, prices of pellets exported to the EU, were on average 36 percent higher than same period in 2003, while for chips destined to the Far East, they were about 5 percent up. Prices of flour and starch, although down from the corresponding period last year, have risen by 10 percent in the past 6 months.

With an anticipated slowdown in EU imports, the outlook for cassava prices in the remainder of the year, will largely hinge on countries in the Far East, particularly China, maintaining large international purchases. The current forecast for China’s domestic grain availabilities, points to a sharp decline, which could stimulate increased non-grain feed imports by the country, such as cassava.

food outlook

Global cassava utilization increased slightly last year


On a per caput basis, global cassava availabilities in 2003 are estimated to be about 32.2 kg (root equivalent), almost unchanged from 2002.

Global cassava utilization as food (the bulk of which is consumed in sub-Saharan Africa in the form of fresh roots and processed products) was estimated at 104 million tonnes in 2003, approximately 2 million tonnes more than in 2002. Despite overall production gains in sub-Saharan Africa, growth there did not keep pace with the increase in population, bringing about a slight contraction in per caput food availability in 2003.

Utilization of cassava as animal feed, in the form of dried chips and pellets, is concentrated in Latin America and the Caribbean, Nigeria in Africa, China in Asia and the EU. In 2003, global feed usage is put at 54.5 million tonnes, about 4 percent higher than the previous year. The increase reflected developments in the EU, in China and other Asian countries, notably Viet Nam and Malaysia, where a tightening of feed grain supplies and consequent high prices vis-à-vis prices of grain substitutes, fostered a greater cassava usage as livestock feed.

Industrial applications of cassava also witnessed growth in 2003. Alcohol and starch production expanded in Viet Nam, following a large increase in output and fast economic growth. Similarly, rises in industrial usage were reported not only in Ghana but also in those countries that rely heavily on imported supplies, namely the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and China.

World cassava trade expanded in 2003


International trade in aggregate dry cassava products (also called tapioca) recovered in 2003, rising by 17 percent to just under 7 million tonnes, in cassava pellet equivalent. Trade in chips and pellets rose by almost 1 million tonnes to 5.3 million tonnes, while the volume traded in the form of flour and starch, stood virtually unchanged from the previous year at 2.6 million tonnes (1.3 million tonnes in product weight).

World Trade in Cassava 1/

 (million tones)
World Exports 6.1 4.7 5.9
World Imports 6.1 4.7 5.9
EU (15) 2/
China 3/
Korea. Rep. of0.20.10.1
United States0.10.10.0
Source: FAO
1/ In product weight of chips and pellets
2/ Excluding trade between EU members
3/ Including Taiwan Province.

Countries in the Far East were once again the major destination of international trade flows in cassava, importing over 4 million tonnes in aggregate. Over the past few years, China has become the leading cassava importer accounting in 2300 for 43 percent of the global market, procuring close to 3 million tonnes of mainly feed ingredients, 0.5 million tonnes above the volume of the preceding year. By contrast, inflows of chips and pellets to the Republic of Korea collapsed in 2003, following government initiatives to curb cereal inventories by substituting rice for imported feedstuffs such as cassava, but the country’s starch and flour imports rose considerably. International starch and flour purchases by the Philippines and Hong Kong increased in 2003, but fell in Indonesia.

food outlook

The remainder of the expansion in global cassava trade was concentrated in the EU, which mainly imported cassava pellets for the feed industry under a low tariff rate preferential quota. In 2003, EU imports increased by 32 percent to around 2 million tonnes, reflecting the increased price competitiveness of cassava feed products relative to domestically produced grains, which, like in China, were in short supply.

Regarding exports, Thailand continued to hold a dominant position, with a share of around 95 percent of world exports. Falling quotations of cassava pellets in the EU since the 1992 CAP reform have pressured Thai exporters to seek additional markets, especially into Asia. In 2003, shipments of cassava products from Thailand rebounded by 22 percent to 6.6 million tonnes, mainly reflecting larger exportable supplies. Deliveries by the country to EU member states amounted to about 2 million tonnes, substantially short of the 5.25 million tonne preferential access granted to Thailand by the EU, but were easily compensated for by firm demand in the Far East, particularly from China. The implementation of a free trade area between Thailand and China in October 2003, which resulted in the abolition of a 6 percent tariff on Thai cassava products, provided an additional boost to trade flows.

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