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Reference Date: 16-April-2014


  1. Rains in April after prolonged dry spell improved prospects for the 2014 wheat crop

  2. Aggregate cereal imports in 2013/14 to reach a record level

  3. Prices of rice and wheat remain generally stable

Rains in April after prolonged dry spell improved prospects for the 2014 wheat crop

The 2014 winter wheat crop, which accounts for about 95 percent of total wheat production, is at advanced vegetative to flowering stages and harvesting will start in late May. Generally favourable weather conditions from the start of the season in November to February supported planting and development of the early planted wheat crop. However, below-average rains and higher than normal temperatures between March and early April in parts of the North China Plain, resulted in stressed vegetation conditions in parts of some important growing areas, including Shandong and Hebei. Rains resumed to more normal patterns during the second dekad of April, bringing some relief to dry areas. Supplementary irrigation remains necessary. The final outcome of the season will depend on rainfall performance in the remaining of the growing season. FAO’s latest forecast points to an aggregate 2014 wheat crop (including winter and spring seasons) of about 122 million tonnes, similar to last year’s record output. The projected good outcome is mainly attributed to the Government support, including the direct payments to farmers, the Minimum Purchase Prices (MSP), seed and machinery subsidies and other inputs, that has prompted a slight increase in plantings this season.

Planting of the 2014 early rice crop is currently ongoing in southern areas of the country and will continue until the end of April. The rainfall across southern China has been above average since the start of the season, significantly boosting moisture supplies and benefiting planting activities. Assuming a normal upcoming monsoon season and given the continued Government support to the rice sector, the aggregate 2014 rice production is forecast at 204.5 million tonnes, slightly above last year’s record output.

Planting of the 2014 maize crop started in the south and will be concluded by July in the north. The 2014 aggregate maize production is initially forecast at 218 million tonnes, similar to last year’s record output. The increase is mainly attributed to a projected slight increase in the area planted, in response to rising demand for feed grains.

Cereal imports in the 2013/14 marketing year to reach record levels

Total cereal imports are forecast to increase considerably to 22.1 million tonnes in the 2013/14 marketing year, more than double the estimated imports in 2012/13. A strong demand for high-quality wheat is seen to boost wheat purchases to 8.5 million tonnes in the 2013/14 marketing year (July/June), up 5.6 million tonnes from the previous year’s level and the highest since the mid-1990s. For maize, despite expectations of a record harvest in 2013, its purchases in 2013/14 (October/September) could reach an all-time high of 5.5 million tonnes, up 2.8 million tonnes from the previous year due to continued strong domestic demand.

Prices of rice and wheat remain generally stable

Retail prices of Japonica rice and wheat flour remained generally stable in the past few months, despite recent high imports and favourable prospects for the 2014 paddy and wheat crops harvests. Prices continued to be supported by strong domestic demand and high Minimum Support Prices (MSP).

The latest official data indicate that the year-on-year consumer price inflation increased by 2.4 percent in March 2014.

Relevant links:
 Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
 Main Food-related Policy Measures (From 1 Jan 2008 to 11 Oct 2011)
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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