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IGC Grain Market Report


23 April 2012

IGC Grain Market Report April 2012IGC Grain Market Report April 2012

The past month saw significant rises in some markets, notably soyabeans, but a less consistent performance in others, with wheat and maize export prices losing all or most of the gains registered in early March, despite a sharp upturn in nearby US futures on the last day of the month.
International Grain Council Grain Market Report

WORLD ESTIMATES

The rally on 30 March followed official US survey-based stocks data revealing that domestic use of maize and wheat had been greater than anticipated in the last quarter and that, while maize planting intentions were higher than expected, the figures for soyabeans and spring wheat were smaller. The net impact on the IGC’s daily export price index (GOI) was a 4% increase since the end-February Report. While the strength in US soyabeans often supported other crops, wheat also derived underpinning from winter crop concerns in Europe and the Black Sea region. However, improved weather boosted prospects for US winter wheat, although markets also digested the recent, surprisingly small, spring planting forecast. Maize prices were initially lifted by tightening US pipeline availabilities, rumours of more buying by China and rising soyabean values. They then fell as nearby futures appeared overbought but subsequently climbed sharply on US stocks data. US soyabean values drew much of their support from tightening US supplies, declining South American crop prospects and buying activity by China, with planting intentions data indicating that prices need to move even higher to attract new acreage. Rice export markets in Asia strengthened in March, with values supported by logistical issues in India, unexpectedly heavy buying by China and ongoing support measures in Thailand.


EXPORT PRICES

SUPPLY AND DEMAND IN 2011/12

GRAINS*

Based on the latest forecasts for southern hemisphere maize and sorghum crops, currently being harvested, global production of grains in 2011/12 is expected to reach a record 1,841m. tons, an increase of 5.0% from the previous year. The total is unchanged from before, incorporating a reduced estimate for Argentina but somewhat higher ones for Australia and Brazil. The larger harvest is accompanied by a substantial rise in feed use, much of it on-farm, helping to lift total consumption by 55m. tons, to 1,840m. However, the latest estimates appear to confirm a marked slowdown in industrial use, largely because the previously steep rate of growth in the use of maize in ethanol in the US has ended. With consumption forecast to fall just short of production, global grain carryover stocks are expected to rise marginally from last year. The US forecast is reduced by 3m. tons from the previous Report following an unexpectedly low official 1 March stocks figure. World trade in grains in 2011/12 (July/June) is forecast at a record 260m. tons, up from 243m. in 2010/11 and 2m. higher than projected a month ago. The increase is due to substantial rises in wheat and barley trade. Wheat shipments alone are set to increase by 13m. tons, to 139m., the result of increases in feed grade consignments as well as in milling wheat buying, notably in Near East Asia.

RICE

World rice output is forecast to rise by 3% in 2011/12, to 463m. tons, following increases in Asia. Despite a further expansion in world use, to 459m. tons (449m.), the global 2011/12 carryover, is expected to increase to 99m. (96m.). The projected rise is largely due to increases in key exporters, namely India and Thailand, as well as in China. World trade in 2012 is forecast to fall by 5%, to 32.7m. tons, on reduced Asian imports.

OILSEEDS

World soyabean production in 2011/12 is forecast to fall to a three-year low of 242.1m. tons, the 9% year-on-year decline reflecting smaller crops in major producers. Despite increased purchases by China, declining demand elsewhere will result in world soyabean trade falling marginally in 2011/12, to 90.8m. tons. Strong demand from Asia and the EU will prompt further growth in world soyameal trade, to 58.4m. tons (56.9m.).

OUTLOOK FOR 2012/13

GRAINS*

With the 2012/13 grain harvest only just under way in the northern hemisphere, starting with wheat crops in South Asia, any global production forecast is highly tentative and largely based on estimates of areas planted or to be seeded. Indications are that the total area to be harvested for wheat and coarse grains will expand by 1.9%, to 540m. ha., the biggest since 1996/97. The steepest increases are expected in the CIS and North America. The overall outturn is projected to increase by 35m. tons, or 1.9%, to a record 1,876m. A reduction in wheat production will be more than offset by larger crops of maize, sorghum and barley.

On the basis of the preliminary crop and use forecasts, the global grain balance in 2012/13 is projected to ease slightly. At 1,870m. tons, total use is projected to not quite match output; the main increase will be in feed use, supported by rising meat demand in developing countries. As in the current year, the increase in industrial use of grains, mainly as ethanol and starch, will again be relatively small, with US grain-based ethanol output expected to be unchanged for the second successive year after a decade of solid growth. Such a scenario would result in 2012/13 carryover stocks of grains of 380m. tons, slightly above the current year’s forecast level of 374m.. Assuming an upturn in US end-season maize inventories, total carryover stocks of grains held by the eight major exporters are projected to rise by 12m. tons, to 140m., still historically low.

The expansion seen in global trade in grains in recent years is expected to continue in 2012/13, with the total projected at 263m. tons, up from this year’s forecast 260m. While trade in wheat is projected to fall back from this year’s record, mainly due to the likely reduced role of feed wheat, shipments of maize are set to climb in response to rising animal feed demand, including larger purchases by China. The biggest increases in grain imports will likely occur in Far East Asia and North Africa, with some reduction foreseen from this year’s high level of purchases by Near East Asian countries.

WHEAT: World wheat production in 2012/13 is expected to fall by 15m. tons from the past year’s record, to 681m., capped by a projected reduction in the average yield from the current year’s high. Crops may be smaller in Australia, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Ukraine, but better outcomes are expected in North America and Russia. Global consumption is forecast to grow only modestly, with gains in food and industrial use partly offset by a fall in feed demand. Nevertheless, feed use is expected to remain at a relatively high level due to ample global supplies. World stocks are forecast to recede from the past year’s peak, but availabilities should remain comfortable, including in the major exporters. Some reduction in world wheat trade is forecast, mainly due to lower purchases for feed amid improved supplies of maize and barley.

MAIZE (CORN): The supply and demand outlook for maize is projected to remain quite tight in 2012/13, but a larger crop, including a major upturn in the US, is expected to be not entirely absorbed by demand, leaving room for a modest rise in stocks. Due to favourable pricing and good potential returns, total plantings are expected to reach an all-time high and, based on normal growing weather and trend yields, output is projected to increase by 4% from last year, to 900m. tons. Rising meat demand will support feed use, but competition from lower grade wheat and barley will again be a factor. Growth in industrial use is likely to be slower than in recent years: starch production in China will increase further, but US ethanol production is forecast to dip because of stalling domestic and export demand. Global stocks are projected to increase modestly as a rise in the US more than offsets declines in China and Brazil. Supported by rising feed demand and a further increase in imports by China, global trade is projected to climb by 6m. tons, to 100m.

April 2012

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