World Food Situation

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 2024 (tentative): 2 February, 8 March, 5 April, 3 May, 7 June, 5 July, 6 September, 4 October, 8 November, 6 December.

World 2023 cereal production forecast up from last month; early prospects for 2024 point to limited area growth for wheat

Release date: 08/12/2023

FAO’s forecast for world cereal production in 2023 has been raised by 3.6 million tonnes this month, reflecting improved prospects for wheat and, to a lesser extent, coarse grains. Now pegged at 2 823 million tonnes, the global cereal outturn is expected up 0.9 percent (25.9 million tonnes) year-on-year and 10.4 million tonnes above the previous record high reached in 2021. The forecast for global wheat production in 2023 was lifted by approximately 2 million tonnes this month to 787 million tonnes, but it is still seen down 2.1 percent (17.1 million tonnes) from the 2022 level. The month-on-month upturn is mainly related to larger outputs in the Russian Federation and Türkiye, where the latest official information points to higher yields than previously foreseen. Relatively smaller reductions were made to the production forecasts for Argentina and Brazil on account of adverse weather conditions that affected crops late in the season. Global coarse grain production is pegged at 1 511 million tonnes in 2023, virtually unchanged month-on-month and 3.6 percent above the outturn in 2022. A significant upward revision was made to the maize forecast for the United States of America based on higher yields, offsetting cuts to production forecasts for the European Union, as well as for Mexico where dry weather conditions caused localized crop losses and curbed yield prospects. FAO’s forecast of global rice production in 2023/24 has been raised by 0.9 million tonnes since November, as official assessments in Indonesia and the United Republic of Tanzania indicate that weather disruptions will likely cause somewhat less pronounced output reductions than previously envisaged. Combined with upgrades to anticipated harvests in the Russian Federation, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Viet Nam based on increased area under plantings, these adjustments raised the global rice production forecast to 524.9 million tonnes (milled basis), up 0.8 percent from the 2022/23 level.


Looking ahead to the next season, planting of the 2024 winter wheat crop is ongoing in the northern hemisphere countries and, reflecting lower crop prices, area growth could be limited this year. In the United States of America, owing to more conducive weather conditions this season, about 50 percent of the winter wheat crop was rated as good to excellent in late November 2023, compared to 34 percent last year. In the European Union, whilst planting conditions in central areas have been generally favourable, excessive wet conditions in northern and western parts have impeded sowings and early crop development. In Ukraine, the continued constraints caused by the war, including declining financial capacities of farmers due to low local farm-gate prices and high input costs, will likely lower the area under wheat further. In the Russian Federation, planting of the winter wheat crop was nearly finalised in late November, with weather conditions improving after inadequate rainfall in the southern areas in October. In India, winter wheat sowings have progressed at an average pace and because of strong domestic prices, plantings are forecast to exceed last year’s level. In Pakistan, the wheat area is forecast to slightly surpass last year’s above-average level, underpinned by record-high domestic prices, with satisfactory input supplies, including water resources for irrigation, boosting yield prospects. Amid overall beneficial weather conditions, wheat plantings in China (mainland) concluded in October, and the area sown is estimated higher than the near-average level of last year.


Sowing of the 2024 coarse grain crops is ongoing in the southern hemisphere countries. In Brazil, due to wet weather conditions, which have slowed down maize sowings, and lower prices, the total area is seen retreating by 5 percent from the record level of 2023. In Argentina, an uptick in rainfall boosted soil moisture levels following earlier drought conditions. With above-average rains likely to continue, maize production in Argentina is set to rebound in 2024. In South Africa, early conditions for planting of the 2024 crops have been generally favourable, however, forecasts point to likely drier conditions later in the season, raising concerns for yield potentials. 


World cereal total utilization in 2023/24 is forecast at 2 813 million tonnes, up 2.4 million tonnes from the previous month and 1.1 percent higher than in 2022/23. Following a 1.9-million-tonne upward revision this month, global wheat utilization in 2023/24 is expected to reach 791.4 million tonnes, surpassing the estimated 2022/23 level by 1.8 percent, supported by expectations of a strong growth in feed use as well as higher food consumption and other uses. Nearly unchanged from last month, the forecast for total utilization of coarse grains in 2023/24 is pegged at 1 500 million tonnes, up 1.2 percent from the previous season, driven mainly by increased maize utilization (especially for feed and industrial uses). World rice utilization is forecast to total 521.6 million tonnes (milled basis) in 2023/24, only marginally changed from the previous month and 0.7 million tonnes below the 2022/23 estimate, as foreseen cuts in the use of rice for animal feed are predicted to offset a population-led increase in food intake.


The forecast for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2024 has been raised by 5.3 million tonnes since the previous month to 886.5 million tonnes, up 2.7 percent above the opening level and marking a new record high. Based on the latest forecast, the global cereal stock-to-use ratio would be 30.8 percent in 2023/24, nearly unchanged from 30.7 percent in 2022/23 and indicating a comfortable supply level. Accounting for the bulk of this month’s upward revision, the forecast for world wheat inventories has been raised by 4.2 million tonnes since November, mainly in Egypt, the European Union and Saudi Arabia, and is now pegged at 319.3 million tonnes, up 0.2 percent from the opening level. Global coarse grain inventories, nearly unchanged from last month, are forecast to increase by 5.7 percent from opening levels to 367.5 million tonnes. An upward revision to maize stocks this month, mostly reflecting higher foreseen inventories in the United States of America stemming from a larger production estimate, will likely offset a downward revision to barley inventories largely attributed to lower stocks in the European Union. FAO’s forecast for global rice stocks at the close of 2023/24 marketing seasons has been upgraded by 0.8 million tonnes, following several slight upward adjustments to carry-overs, namely for Guinea, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. As a result, world rice reserves are now predicted to rise by 1.6 percent from their opening level to a new peak of 199.7 million tonnes.


World trade in cereals in 2023/24 is forecast at 468.4 million tonnes, down marginally from last month and 1.8 percent lower than the 2022/23 level. Pegged at 194.1 million tonnes, the forecast for world wheat trade in 2023/24 (July/June) is nearly unchanged month on month. Upward adjustments to export forecasts for Türkiye and Ukraine were offset by downward revisions to export prospects for Argentina, Brazil and the European Union. The forecast for world trade in coarse grains in 2023/24 (July/June) is also nearly unchanged from the previous forecast and still slightly (0.8 percent) below the 2022/23 level. Global maize trade was marginally revised upward this month, reflecting stronger import demand anticipated from Mexico and Saudi Arabia and higher exports by Paraguay and the Russian Federation, but it is still seen heading for a 1.5 percent decline from 2022/23. The forecast for international trade in rice in 2024 (January/December) has been lowered by 0.6 million tonnes to 52.3 million tonnes, mainly due to a downward adjustment to imports by China, which was only partly offset by an increase to Indonesia’s purchases. The revised forecast would imply that world rice flows in 2024 will likely fall 1.5 percent below their already reduced 2023 level.
Summary Tables