Grain trade expected to decline from the 2020/21 record level

10 May 20223 min reading

FAO released a new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief with updated forecasts pointing to a likely 1.2 percent decline in world trade in cereals in the 2021/22 marketing year compared to the previous year.

The decline is associated with maize and other coarse grains, while trade volumes for rice are predicted to grow by 3.8 percent and that for wheat by 1.0 percent.

With almost all crops harvested for the 2020/21 cycle, FAO pegs the world cereal production at 2 799 million tonnes, an 0.8 percent increase from the 2019/20 outturn. World cereal utilization for the 2021/22 period is projected to increase by 0.9 percent from the previous year to 2 785 million tonnes.

FAO’s new estimate for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2022 now stands at 856 million tonnes, 2.8 percent above opening levels, led by a build-up in maize inventories partly due to suspended exports from Ukraine. If confirmed, the global cereal stocks-to-use ratio would end the period unchanged at a “relatively comfortable supply level” of 29.9 percent, according to FAO.

FAO still predicts global wheat production to grow in 2022, to 782 million tonnes. That forecast incorporates an expected 20 percent decline in harvested area in Ukraine as well as drought-driven output declines in Morocco. The outlook in the Russian Federation remains broadly favourable, as conducive weather conditions continue to point to an upturn in yields that underlie the forecasted production increase in 2022. In the European Union, the forecast for wheat production has been raised to 139.5 million tonnes on account of recent official data indicating a small year-to-year increase in wheat sowings, compared to earlier expectations. However, reflecting persistent dryness in southern areas, an anticipated decline in yields in 2022 is expected to offset the effects of the larger plantings, keeping the output unchanged on a yearly basis. In Asia, small production increases are forecast for India and Pakistan in 2022, while in the Near East countries, wheat outputs are forecast at average levels, supported by generally favourable weather. However, in North Africa, the effects of drought conditions, which are particularly acute in Morocco, are foreseen to result in sizeable production declines.

Regarding coarse grains, harvesting of the 2022 crops has started in the southern hemisphere, and prospects continue to point to above-average outputs in leading producer countries. In South America, official data affirm expectations that Brazil will harvest a record maize crop in 2022, forecast at 116 million tonnes, driven by record-high plantings. In Argentina, dry weather conditions are likely to reduce yields and result in a moderate cutback in production to about 57 million tonnes; however, the harvest is still anticipated at an above-average level. In Southern Africa, despite the impact of floods in eastern parts of South Africa, the leading producer and exporter in the region, maize production is still pegged at an above-average level of 15.3 million tonnes in 2022. In the northern hemisphere, planting of the 2022 maize crop has recently begun. In the largest global producer, the United States of America, initial planting surveys indicate that the maize acreage is likely to decline by 4 percent in 2022, amid concerns about the high costs of inputs.

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