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USDA forecasts record wheat production amid declining trade and stocks

13 June 20246 min reading

According to the USDA’s May ‘Grain: World Markets and Trade’ report, the global wheat outlook for 2024/25 forecasts record production and consumption but lower trade and contracting ending stocks. Production is projected to increase with larger crops in key producing countries such as India, China, Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Pakistan, and the United States, more than offsetting declines in the European Union, Russia, and Ukraine. Global trade is expected to contract due to reduced demand from Pakistan and the EU. Exports are forecast to decline significantly, particularly for Ukraine. Ending stocks are forecast to decrease, with notable reductions in Russia’s stocks.

The global wheat outlook is for record production and consumption, but lower trade and contracting ending stocks. Production is projected to increase with larger crops in India, China, Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Pakistan, and the United States more than offsetting declines for the European Union, Russia and Ukraine. Global trade will contract with less demand from Pakistan and the European Union. Exports are forecast to decline, particularly for Ukraine. Ending stocks are forecast to decrease, with smaller stocks especially in Russia. 

In its May “Grain: World Markets and Trade” report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts a record global wheat production for the 2024/25 season, projecting it to reach 798.2 million tons. This marks an increase of 10.5 million tons from the previous year.

The USDA attributes much of this growth to record-breaking outputs in China and India. China is expected to produce 140 million tons, while India’s production is forecast at 114 million tons, both driven largely by government support programs. In Pakistan, high wheat prices have led to an expansion in planted areas, resulting in an increase of 1.8 million tons.

North American production is set for recovery. The United States is expected to see higher winter wheat production due to expanded harvested areas. Canada also shows improved prospects, with production forecast at 34 million tons. In the Southern Hemisphere, initial outlooks for Australia (29 million tons), Argentina, and Brazil are positive, supported by sufficient soil moisture as planting begins.

Contrasting with these positive trends, Europe and the Black Sea region face declines. Europe’s production is forecast lower due to unfavorable rains reducing planted areas last fall. The European Union is forecast to produce 132 million tons of wheat, while Russia’s production is expected to be 88 million tons. Ukraine’s output is projected at 21 million tons, reflecting the ongoing impacts of the war and reduced planting areas. 

CONSUMPTION TRENDS

Global wheat consumption is projected at 802.4 million tons, up 2.0 million from last year, with food, seed, and industrial (FSI) use expanding while feed and residual use declines. India is expected to see the largest increase in FSI use due to continued population growth and government food security programs. FSI use in Pakistan and China is also expected to rise with expanding population and larger domestic supplies. 

GLOBAL WHEAT STOCKS HIT FIVE-YEAR LOW

Global wheat stocks are forecast to decrease for the fifth consecutive year to the lowest level since 2015/16. China’s wheat stocks are forecast to remain virtually unchanged at 132.6 million tons, accounting for more than half of global stocks. India’s stocks are anticipated to rise from a 16-year low due to rebounding production and the continuation of its export ban. In contrast, Russia’s stocks are expected to decline the most among major exporters, falling to 7.9 million tons, as production decreases while exports remain robust. The EU’s stocks are forecast to decrease to 14.4 million tons due to less production and imports. Meanwhile, U.S. stocks are forecast to rise to the highest level since 2020/21, driven by increased production outpacing use.

EGYPT SET TO BE LARGEST WHEAT IMPORTER,  SOUTHEAST ASIA IMPORTS DECLINE

Egypt is predicted to be the largest global importer for 2024/25, with imports forecast at 12.0 million tons. Egypt imports are forecast to rebound as the country recovers from currency shortages and works to rebuild stocks. In addition to wheat milled for domestic use, Egypt is also expected to continue exporting some wheat flour to nearby countries such as Sudan. Drought conditions will necessitate larger imports in other North African countries, most notably Morocco.

Source: USDA

Southeast Asia wheat imports are set to decline slightly. Indonesia, the largest importer in the region at 11.5 million tons, will see a decrease of 500,000 tons year over year since record 2023/24 imports bolstered carryin stocks. Imports are also down modestly for the Philippines, with slightly lower feed use.

India is expected to remain largely absent from the global market. Imports for Bangladesh are anticipated to increase on ample global supplies and lower prices. However, Pakistan is forecast to slash imports by 2.7 million tons, the largest year-over-year decline, due to record domestic production.

Despite a smaller crop, the European Union will also have a significant year-to-year decline in imports – down 2.5 million tons to 11.0 million – due to fewer available supplies from Ukraine, its primary supplier throughout 2023/24. With ample domestic supplies of both barley and corn, import demand from the feed sector is expected to be lower, although imports of durum will continue to be strong. Imports for Turkey are forecast to increase by 1.0 million tons to 10.5 million with smaller domestic production. Nevertheless, Turkey will remain a major re-exporter of wheat flour and pasta products.

Western Hemisphere imports are forecast to rebound with expanded exportable supplies from the United States and Canada. Mexico will import record volumes of wheat, mostly from the United States as it is expected to be more competitive against Russia in this market. Brazil is the largest importer in the region and is forecast to increase imports slightly in 2024/25.

USDA PROJECTS INTENSE COMPETITION AMONG TOP WHEAT EXPORTERS

Global wheat trade is projected to be the lowest since 2021/22, although still the third-highest on record. Competition among exporters remains intense. Russia is forecast to be the world’s top exporter for the fifth consecutive year, with exports projected at 52 million tons despite a smaller crop. The European Union’s exports are forecast at 34 million tons, while Ukraine is expected to export 14 million tons, both seeing declines due to lower production and carryin supplies.

Source: USDA

High-quality wheat suppliers such as Canada, Australia, and the United States are anticipated to have larger crops, increasing competition in the Western Hemisphere and Asia. Canada’s exports are forecast at 24.5 million tons, rising by 500,000 tons from the prior year. U.S. exports are expected to increase by 1.5 million tons, reaching 21 million tons. Despite higher production, Australia’s exports are forecast to decline by 2.5 million tons to 22 million tons due to increased competition.

Kazakhstan and Turkey will continue to be major exporters of wheat flour, with Kazakhstan’s exports nearing record levels and Turkey maintaining its position as the world’s largest wheat flour exporter.

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