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FAO Cereal Supply and Demand Brief

The Cereal Supply and Demand Brief provides an up-to-date perspective of the world cereal market. The monthly brief is supplemented by a detailed assessment of cereal production as well as supply and demand conditions by country/region in the quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation. More in-depth analyses of world markets for cereals, as well as other major food commodities, are published biannually in Food Outlook.

Monthly release dates for 2015: 05 February, 05 March, 02 April, 07 May, 04 June, 09 July, 10 September, 08 October, 05 November, 03 December.

Prospects for world cereal production in 2015 improve

Release date: 04/06/2015

The outlook for world cereal production in 2015 has improved since the previous report in May, on expectations of larger wheat, coarse grains and rice harvests.  FAO’s latest forecast for global cereal production in 2015 stands at 2 524 million tonnes (including rice in milled terms), almost 15 million tonnes higher than it was reported in May. At this level, world cereal production would be 1 percent, or 25.6 million tonnes, lower than the record in 2014.

Global wheat production in 2015 is currently forecast at 723 million tonnes, up 4 million tonnes from May but down 0.8 percent (6 million tonnes) from the previous year’s record.  This month’s upward revision mostly reflects bigger anticipated harvests in Africa and North America. The y/y (year–on- year) contraction in world wheat production would be mainly the result of declines in the EU, India and the Russian Federation, which combined account for approximately 40 percent of the global wheat output. The forecast for world coarse grains production in 2015 has been raised more significantly, by 10 million tonnes, to 1300 million tonnes, mainly on improved prospects for maize (in China and Mexico) and sorghum (in the United States). Despite this month’s increase, world coarse grain production would remain 2 percent (26 million tonnes) smaller than in 2014, largely on account of lower projected maize and barley outputs.  The forecast for global rice production in 2015 has also been upgraded since last month, by 400 000 tonnes, , in milled rice equivalent, mainly on more buoyant prospects for China and Western African countries. Although still very preliminary, global rice production is now predicted to grow by 1.3 percent (6.3 million tonnes) compared to last year, to some 500 million tonnes, underpinned by large increases in Asia (China, India,  Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand).

World cereal utilization in 2015/16 is projected at 2 525 million tonnes, up slightly from the previous report and now 1.2 percent (nearly 30 million tonnes) above the latest estimate for 2014/15.   Total feed utilization of cereals is forecast at 894 million tonnes, 1.5 percent (13 million tonnes) above the 2014/15 estimate, compared to almost 5 percent growth between 2013/14 and 2014/15. Less buoyant prospects for feed use in China and the EU are the main factor explaining this deceleration. Total food consumption of cereals is likely to increase by 1.3 percent (14 million tonnes), keeping annual per capita consumption level of cereals steady at slightly above 152 kg, with wheat at around 67 kg and rice at just over 57 kg.

The forecast for world cereal stocks by the close of the seasons in 2016 has been raised by7.7 million tonnes since May, to 634 million tonnes. Improved crop prospects are behind this month’s small upward adjustment. At the current forecast level, world cereal stocks would be 1.9 percent (12 million tonnes) down from their very high opening levels. The anticipated decline would lower the world cereal stock-to-use ratio from 25.6 percent in 2014/15 to 24.7 percent in 2015/16. However, the projected ratio is well above the low of 18.5 percent registered in 2007/08, reinforcing the view of generally stable cereal markets.  Global wheat stocks are anticipated to reach a 13-year high of 201 million tonnes, up 2.6 million tonnes  from May and 1.4 percent (2.7 million tonnes) above their opening levels. Bigger inventories than in the previous season, most notably in the EU and the United States, are likely to more than offset draw downs in Canada, India and the Islamic Republic of Iran. World coarse grains stocks are projected at 264 million tonnes, up more than 4 million tonnes from the previous forecast but down 2.6 percent (7 million tonnes) from their all-time high opening levels. Most of the anticipated y/y decline would be on account of a 2 percent (4.5 million tonnes) reduction in world maize reserves, which are forecast to decline to around 219 million tonnes, as reductions in Southern Africa, Ukraine and the United States would more than offset a further buildup in China. Under the prospect for another record maize crop, maize inventories in China are indeed foreseen to climb to 102 million tonnes, 4 million tonnes more than anticipated in May.   Rice stocks are also likely to be trimmed in 2015/16, ending 8 million tonnes lower, i.e. the volume required to cover the shortfall between the anticipated world production and utilization. Much of the drawdown is likely to concern Asian countries, in particular Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand.

World trade in cereals in 2015/16 is forecast at 351 million tonnes, down 1.1 percent (4.1 million tonnes) from 2014/15. Wheat accounts for most of the expected contraction in world cereal trade, followed by barley. However, for other major cereals, including maize, rice and sorghum, somewhat stronger import demand is likely to sustain a small expansion in their international trade. World wheat trade in 2015/16 (July/June) is anticipated to decline by 2.4 percent (3.7 million tonnes) from 2014/15 to 150 million tonnes. Lower wheat purchases by several countries in North Africa, Brazil and Turkey are the main reasons for the anticipated contraction in world trade. The latest forecast is also one million tonnes lower than reported in May, following small cuts in imports, mainly to the EU, Ethiopia, Egypt and Pakistan.  The forecast for global trade in coarse grains in 2015/16 (July/June) has been raised by 2.5 million tonnes since last month to 158.5 million tonnes. The upward adjustment, which mostly reflects higher import forecasts for maize in the EU, puts trade volume of coarse grains in 2015/16 at very close to the record high levels of the previous two seasons. The forecast for rice trade in 2016 is in the order of 42.5 million tonnes. This would represent a 2.3 percent rebound from the contraction currently anticipated for 2015. The 2016 trade recovery would be fueled by a renewed demand by the traditional large importers, including Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, the Philippines but also Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria and sustained by continuing large availabilities in exporting countries. However, these forecasts are still subject to much uncertainty, largely depending on the unfolding of the 2015 rice seasons.


Summary Tables

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1/  Production data refer to the calendar year of the first year shown. Rice production is expressed in milled terms.
2/  Production plus opening stocks.
3/  Trade data refer to exports based on a July/June marketing season for wheat and coarse grains and on a January/December marketing season for rice (second year shown).
4/  May not equal the difference between supply and utilization due to differences in individual country marketing years.
5/ Major wheat exporters are Argentina, Australia, Canada, the EU, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States; major coarse grain exporters are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States; major rice exporters are India, Pakistan, Thailand, the United States, and Viet Nam. Disappearance is defined as domestic utilization plus exports for any given season.