French Wheat Export Forecast Upped Again But Caution Over Season End
Farming agency FranceAgriMer raised its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the European Union for the third month in a row, but said optimism in the market was waning after a recent flurry of shipments.
In monthly supply and demand estimates on Wednesday, FranceAgriMer predicted soft wheat exports outside the bloc of 9.7 million tonnes in the 2018/19 season to 30 June, up from the 9.5 million forecast in March and 19.5% above last season's volume.
French wheat exports have been bolstered in recent weeks by declining competition from Black Sea origins and steady demand from importers in North and West Africa.
Scope Outside The EU
Some market participants had seen scope for French shipments outside the EU to reach 10 million tonnes, but FranceAgriMer said market sentiment was generally less upbeat than a month ago.
A political crisis in Algeria - the main overseas market for French wheat -, the upcoming end to Morocco's import season and competition from US wheat in Egypt were all tempering optimism about end-of-season export demand, Manon Duval, deputy head of FranceAgriMer's grain unit, told reporters.
Algeria has accounted for over half of France's soft wheat exports outside the EU so far this season, with about 4.5 million tonnes shipped, port data compiled by Reuters shows.
The country's wheat imports are sourced via tenders held by state grains agency OAIC. The latest tender is due to be held on Thursday.
Algeria's parliament on Tuesday named an interim president following the resignation of veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika after weeks of mass protests.
"The political changes taking place in Algeria create uncertainty. Will these changes have an impact on the level of import demand? It's a real question mark," Remi Haquin, chairman of FranceAgriMer's grain committee, said.
FranceAgriMer left its estimate of soft wheat stocks for the end of the season unchanged at 2.4 million tonnes, which would be a five-year low.
The stable stocks forecast included reduced forecasts for animal feed demand and exports within the EU, offsetting the increased outlook for exports outside the bloc.
For maize, FranceAgriMer increased its estimate of 2018/19 ending stocks by 200,000 tonnes to 2.6 million tonnes, which would be a four-year high.
The higher maize stocks projection was mainly due to a reduced outlook for exports within the EU.
Expected barley ending stocks were trimmed to 1.7 million tonnes from 1.8 million, but would remain at a nine-year high.
The cut to the barley stocks forecast reflected slight increases to projected animal feed demand and intra-EU exports.