International prices of wheat and rice increased in April, while those of maize dropped

International cereal prices

International prices of wheat generally increased in April due to strong international demand amid export control measures in the Black Sea region. Concerns over the impact of dry weather conditions on the 2020 crops in key producing countries also provided support. The benchmark US wheat (No.2 Hard Red Winter, f.o.b.) rose slightly, after declining in the past two months, and averaged USD 232 per tonne, more than 2 percent above its level in March and nearly 9 percent higher than in the corresponding month in 2019. While in the United States of America the general upward pressure was somewhat limited by a slower pace in exports, in the European Union and the Black Sea region strong shipments underpinned more substantial increases in prices.

Export prices of maize declined further in April, with the benchmark US maize (No.2, Yellow, f.o.b.) dropping by 10 percent month on month and averaging USD 145 per tonne, also nearly 10 percent down on a yearly basis and the lowest value in more than ten years. Large global supplies and good production prospects in South America, where crops are being harvested, continued to put downward pressure on prices. In addition, lower demand for maize from the biofuel and animal feed industries weighed further on prices. In key exporting country, Ukraine, export prices remained relatively stable, however, as support from large export sales in early April offset the downward pressure from a decline in foreign demand in the second half of the month.

The FAO All Rice Price Index (2002-2004=100) increased by 7 percent in April to reach its highest level since December 2011. An acceleration of Asian Indica prices in the first half of the month drove the increase, as Viet Nam’s late March temporary suspension of new export contracts was followed by news of Cambodia banning Indica and paddy exports, while Myanmar paused the issuance of new export licenses. Logistical constraints linked to quarantine measures, particularly in India, put further upward pressure on prices, although gains were capped mid-way through the month by Viet Nam’s relaxation and ultimate repeal of export restrictions and by easing logistical bottlenecks in India. In the United States of America, a short crop and strong exports raised Indica prices to their highest levels since August 2013, while harvest pressure and currency movements limited the increases in the major South American exporters.