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World grain production soars to record levels

20 February 20243 min reading

World cereal production in 2023 is seen on track to hit an all-time record high of 2,836 million tons – up 1.2 percent from 2022, according to FAO’s latest Cereal Supply and Demand Brief. This represents a 1.2 percent (33.3 million tons) increase from the 2022 level.

The global coarse grain output is also pegged at an all-time high of 1,523 million tons, following a 12-million-tonne upward adjustment in February. The bulk of the revision reflects new official data from Canada, China, Türkiye and the USA, where a combination of higher yields and larger harvested areas than previously expected has led to higher maize production estimates.

The global barley output has also been raised, with changes mostly concentrated in Canada and the Russia, while the world wheat production has been lifted by 1.4 million tons and now stands at 788.5 million tons in 2023, albeit still 2.2 percent lower year on year. The improved production outlook in February is mainly driven by Canada’s wheat yield and harvested area surpassing earlier estimates, more than compensating for a reduction in Brazil’s wheat forecast due to the effects of heat waves and excessive rainfall.

World cereal utilisation in 2023/24 is now forecast at 2,822 million tons, up 8.9 million tons from the December forecast and surpassing the 2022/23 level by 1.2 percent, led by greater-than-earlier anticipated feed use, especially in the European Union as well as in Australia and the United States of America. Consequently, the 2023/24 global cereal stocks-to-use ratio is forecast at a comfortable level of 31.1 percent, exceeding the 2022/23 level of 30.9 percent.

Global trade in cereals in 2023/24 is now forecast to reach 480 million tons, up by 0.8 percent from the preceding year, led mostly by larger traded volumes foreseen for coarse grains while world trade in wheat and rice could actually contract. 

WHEAT AND MAIZE PRICES HIT TWO-YEAR LOWS

With the onset of 2024, commodity markets remain relatively calm, at least compared to the recent past. Wheat, maize and soybean export prices were at their lowest of the past two years. Rice prices remain the exception. Markets will be watching the development of Brazil soybean production which have been under some stress due to below normal rainfall. Yet, potential for shocks abounds: shipping disruptions in the Panama Canal, the Red Sea and many inland waterways could threaten established trade routes, and alter the competitiveness of different origins, with implications for planting intentions for 2024 crops.

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