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Prices of wheat and maize increase in key producing countries

09/10/2019

In the key producing countries of the subregion, prices of wheat increased in September following seasonal trends, while they remained broadly stable in importing countries. In Argentina, wholesale prices of wheat grain continued to increase in September, with seasonal pressure compounded by concerns over the impact of dry weather on crops, currently at the development stage. Prices were nearly 50 percent above their values a year earlier, in nominal terms, after the sustained increases of the past several months, mainly due to significant exports. In Uruguay, prices of wheat also increased seasonally but remained slightly lower than a year earlier. Similarly, in Brazil, prices of wheat grain strengthened somewhat in September, with the new harvest recently started in Paraná State, and were down from their year-earlier levels. In Chile, prices decreased in September on account of favourable production prospects and adequate domestic supplies. In importing countries, prices remained virtually unchanged and down from a year earlier in Ecuador. Similarly, prices of wheat flour held steady or weakened in Bolivia (Plurinational State of) and Peru, and were lower than in September last year. By contrast, in Colombia, prices increased and were above their year-earlier levels due to costlier imports. With regard to maize, prices of yellow maize were higher than a year earlier in most countries of the subregion. In Argentina, where planting of the 2020 crop is ongoing, prices of yellow maize increased for the second consecutive month in September and were well above their year-earlier levels. The high prices mainly reflect strong exports boosted by the significant depreciation of the country’s currency while further upward pressure stemmed from dry weather hindering planting progress in some areas. Similarly, in Brazil, dry weather, slowing down planting progress of the main season crop, and a strong pace of shipments provided support to prices and offset the downward pressure from the secondary crop harvest, recently completed. Prices, however, remained more than 10 percent lower year on year on account of good domestic availabilities. In the key growing areas of Bolivia (Plurinational State of), prices of yellow maize increased in September following the completion of the minor winter harvest, which was negatively affected by dry weather. Prices were above those a year earlier supported by a contraction in the 2019 aggregate output. Prices remained higher year on year also in Chile, despite some weakening in September, after a reduced 2019 output and costlier imports underpinned the price increases in the past few months. In Colombia, prices declined for the second consecutive month in September, after reaching a peak in July, instigated by higher prices in the international market. Lower export prices from the key supplier, the United States of America, and the ongoing main season harvest, contributed to the recent decline in prices, which, however, remained higher than a year earlier. In Ecuador, prices generally strengthened in September in line with seasonal trends, with the minor season harvest to start in October, and were slightly lower year on year on account of the good supplies from the main season output. Similarly, the good output in Peru kept prices of yellow maize at levels below those a year earlier. Regarding rice, in Brazil, the major producer of the subregion, strong demand supported by a weaker currency and a smaller crop harvested earlier in the year, kept prices of rice above those a year earlier. Also in Uruguay, despite recent declines, prices remained higher than a year earlier due to a decline in the 2019 output. In Colombia, prices of rice declined slightly in September in line with seasonal trends but were overall higher than their values a year earlier due to the depreciation of the country’s currency, which contributed to an increase in production costs. Also in Ecuador, prices weakened with the start of the minor paddy crop and were lower than in September last year reflecting abundant supplies from the good main season harvest, completed in June. By contrast, in Peru, prices of rice rose seasonally in September and were higher year on year.