Turkey emerges as key durum wheat exporter amidst global shortages

02 November 20233 min reading

In the 2023/24 season, Turkey, a major wheat importer, is emerging in a new role with record exports of wheat grain amid disruptions to the global durum market. While Canadian durum supplies are down from last year, Turkey’s durum wheat production is poised for a significant upswing, with forecasts indicating a robust 4 million tons. Turkey has already shipped more than 1 million tons of durum wheat, with Italy and Canada being the primary destinations for these exports.

Turkey is a major participant in the global wheat trade, importing wheat grain and exporting wheat flour and products. In 2022/23, Turkey was the second-largest importer in the world at a record 12.5 million tons, mainly purchasing milling wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Turkey was also the eighth-largest exporter at 7 million tons (wheat grain equivalent), mostly shipping wheat products to Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, and other markets in the Middle East and Africa that rely on Turkey’s affordable supplies. The country’s Inward Processing Regime allows Turkish mills to import wheat grain duty-free to then be processed into wheat products for export. Last year, 95 percent of Turkey’s wheat exports were processed products such as flour, pasta, couscous, and bulgur.

In 2023/24, Turkey is emerging in a new role with record exports of wheat grain amid disruptions to the global durum market. Durum is a hard wheat, typically used to make pasta, flatbreads, couscous, and other staple food products, that is produced and traded in smaller volumes than other classes of wheat. Major consumers of durum wheat and products include Italy, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Historically, Canada has been the largest producer and exporter of durum wheat. In 2022/23, Canada exported over 5 million tons of durum wheat, compared to 600,000 tons from second-largest exporter the European Union. In 2023/24, however, Canada durum production is severely impacted by drought conditions and forecast at only 4.1 million tons, down 23 percent from the 5-year average. With global supplies tightening, Canadian durum export quotes surged from $360/ton in July to $510/ton in August. Durum prices have since eased slightly as major durum consumers and importers have turned to other suppliers of durum wheat grain. Turkey durum exports prices slid from $443/ton in July to $437/ton in August.

While Canadian durum supplies are down from last year, Turkey durum wheat production is up. According to FAS/Ankara and industry sources, 2023/24 Turkey durum wheat production is forecast at 4 million tons, up 1 million from the prior year. Turkey’s durum wheat crop is typically consumed domestically by pasta processors; however, increased demand for durum grain and favorable prices have prompted higher exports. So far this year, Turkey shipped over 1 million tons of durum grain, mostly to Italy and Canada. In Last month, the Turkish government introduced restrictions on durum grain exports to conserve domestic supplies. Exporters were required to apply for export licenses in September in order to be able to export for the remainder of the year. Despite this, Turkey’s durum exports are expected to comprise a significant part of the total record forecast of 8.5 million tons (wheat grain equivalent).  USDA

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