FranceAgriMer has raised its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the EU in 2023/24, but also lifted its season-end stocks estimate to a six-year high on lower forecasts for intra-EU shipments and domestic livestock feed demand.
In a monthly supply and demand outlook, the farm office projected soft wheat exports to non-European Union destinations at 10.1 million metric tonnes, up from 9.8 million projected last month and now just 0.5% below last season's level.
The rise was mainly due to larger estimates of French wheat sales to China and Egypt, FranceAgriMer's analyst Clemence Lenoir said. Strong Chinese demand had already prompted FranceAgrimer to raise its outlook for non-EU shipments last month.
At the same time, it cut its forecast for French soft wheat shipments within the EU this season to 6.79 million tonnes from 7.33 million expected in October, mainly due to strong competition with Ukrainian wheat. The new estimate was still 6.3% higher than the 2022/23 volume.
The farm office had last month already increased its outlook for non-EU shipments and reduced its projection for intra-EU trade, citing strong sales to China along with Black Sea competition in EU markets.
French soft wheat stocks at the end of the 2023/24 season are now projected at 3.06 million tonnes compared with 2.78 million forecast last month, reflecting both the reduced intra-EU export outlook and a 100,000 tonne cut in expected domestic use of soft wheat in feed.
The new stocks forecast is 20.1% above last season's level and the highest since 2017/18.
For maize, harvesting of which is in its final stages, FranceAgriMer raised its forecast 2023/24 ending stocks to 1.86 million tonnes from 1.64 million estimated last month, as the office incorporated a higher farm ministry production estimate released on Tuesday.
Forecast barley stocks for the end of 2023/24 were revised up to 1.70 million tonnes from 1.65 million, mainly reflecting downward revisions to expected exports of barley grain and malt within the EU.
In October, the International Grains Council (IGC) raised its forecast for global wheat production in the 2023/24 season with upward revisions for Ukraine, Russia and the United States outweighing a deteriorating outlook for the crop in Australia.