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Prices of maize generally declined, those of wheat and rice followed mixed trends

10/05/2019

In most countries of the subregion, prices of yellow maize declined seasonally in April, with the notable exception of Argentina, where, despite the ongoing harvest anticipated at a record level, prices strengthened. The increase was mainly due to large sales for export, spurred by currency weakness, which sustained higher prices on a yearly basis. In Brazil, prices declined in April and were lower than their values a year earlier, as harvesting of the main season crops is underway and production prospects are favourable. In Bolivia (Plurinational State of), prices of yellow maize also decreased in most markets on account of the improved prospects for the 2019 main “summer” crop, being harvested. Prices declined significantly in Ecuador and Uruguay with the ongoing main harvests. In Chile, prices remained stable in April despite the ongoing harvest as the output is anticipated to decline mainly due to a contraction in plantings. However, large imports in the past months limited the upward pressure and kept prices only slightly above their values a year earlier. By contrast, in Colombia and Peru, where the main harvests will occur later this year, prices of yellow maize strengthened seasonally and were above their year-earlier values. With regard to wheat, prices were generally higher than a year earlier. In Argentina, despite the 2018 bumper harvest, prices of wheat grain continued to increase in April and were well above their year-earlier values due to the large volumes of exports, sustained by a weak currency. In Brazil, prices of wheat grain weakened in April mainly reflecting trends in the international market, with imports accounting for 60 percent of its consumption needs. Prices, however, were higher than a year earlier mostly due to the depreciation of the country’s currency. Similarly, in Bolivia (Plurinational State of), prices of wheat flour, mostly imported from Argentina, weakened but were generally higher than in April last year. In Chile, prices of wheat grain increased in April after the decline of the past months with the 2018 crop harvest and were some 20 percent higher year on year on account of a decline in the output. In Uruguay, prices of wheat grain firmed up in April and were 40 percent higher year on year mainly due to large exports in the first quarter of 2019, sustained by the significant depreciation of the country’s currency. In importing countries, Colombia and Ecuador, prices of wheat flour remained stable and below or around their year-earlier values reflecting adequate domestic supplies mainly consisting in shipments from Canada. With regard to rice, despite the recent completion of the 2019 harvests, prices strengthened in Brazil, underpinned by export sales, and in Uruguay. In these countries, the reduced outputs, mostly resting on a contraction in plantings, contributed to provide upward pressure on prices, keeping them above their levels a year earlier. By contrast, in Bolivia (Plurinational State of), where the main harvest was also recently completed, prices of rice remained relatively stable in April and were around or below their year-earlier levels reflecting the good output gathered. In Peru, prices of rice weakened or remained stable in April and were down from a year earlier pressured by good supplies from the 2018 harvest and favourable prospects for this year’s harvest, about to start. In Ecuador, prices of rice firmed in April with the bulk of the main harvest yet to occur but were down from a year earlier on account of the good production last year. Similarly, in Colombia, prices held steady in April in line with seasonal trends.