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USDA Grains: World Markets and Trade

11 May 2012

USDA Grains: World Markets and Trade - May 2012USDA Grains: World Markets and Trade - May 2012

Record global corn supplies in 2012/13 are expected to pressure prices, while less wheat supplies support prices above corn. Consequently, corn is expected to replace wheat in animal feed rations in a number of countries.
USDA Grains: World Markets and Trade Reports

Global Corn Production Surges Above Consumption

Global corn production is forecast up 75 million tons (nearly 10 percent) on the basis of record crops in the United States, China, Brazil, and Ukraine. Record global corn consumption is driven primarily by China and by the United States, where corn is being used for feed rather than ethanol.

For wheat, lower production and less exportable supplies from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the EU, and Australia are only partially offset by a larger U.S. wheat crop. Argentine producers are shifting to other grains, notably barley. With lower corn prices, less wheat, including milling-quality wheat, will be fed to animals.

Global Wheat Production Falls Below Consumption

With prospects for a huge U.S. crop, global corn stocks are currently expected to be the largest in over a decade. Conversely, global wheat stocks are expected to decline for the third consecutive year.

Record rice production and rising stocks reflect abundant supplies, which would be expected to pressure global prices. Government policies, particularly in Thailand and India, will continue to impact global market dynamics.

Record Rice Production Outpaces Consumption



Global wheat production is projected to reach 675 million tons, down 19 million from 2011/12. Global consumption is forecast 8 million tons lower to 686 million tons as a result of a reduction in wheat used for feed. Global ending stocks are forecast to drop 11 million tons with exporter stocks comprising virtually the entire decline. It should be noted that despite reduced supplies of feed-quality wheat, milling-quality wheat supplies are ample.

Selected Importers

Global trade is projected down 8 million tons or 5 percent from 2011/12. Although demand for wheat feeding is expected to remain strong over the summer months, a drop-off is expected in the fall as new-crop corn supplies hit the market. Corn prices are projected to fall below wheat and thereby returning to a more normal price relationship as corn displaces wheat in feed rations.

Less import demand for wheat used in feeding is expected in China, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, and Vietnam. Although the EU has tighter supplies, imports are expected to drop significantly as a result of fewer quota-based import licenses available compared to last year, and tighter feedquality wheat supplies in the Black Sea region.

Mexico’s demand for wheat used in feeding is also expected to drop considerably after record imports in 2011/12.

Global Trade Drops


US Weekly FOB Export Bids

Domestic: Wheat prices sank over the last month in all classes other than Soft White Wheat (SWW). Hard Red Winter (HRW) dropped 12 percent to $262/ton and even dipped below SWW on reports of possible record yields. Soft Red Winter (SRW) is down 8 percent to $246/ton on ample old-crop supplies and expectations of a large U.S. corn crop. Hard Red Spring (HRS) dropped 10 percent to $333/ton as a result of ideal planting conditions and large supplies expected in Canada. SWW prices inched up slightly as old-crop supplies tighten due to higherthan- expected exports. The 2012/13 season-average farm price for all wheat is projected at $5.50-$6.70/bushel, down sharply from the record $7.25/bushel projected for 2011/12.



Record global production is expected to outpace consumption in 2012/13. Stocks are rising and global trade is forecast marginally higher than this year but just shy of last year’s record. By contrast, U.S. production, stocks, and trade are expected to fall in 2012/13 as farmers switch to more profitable crops, causing U.S. prices to rise.

Exporter Ending Stocks Soar; Global Trade Steady

Over the last 7 years, stocks held by the top five exporters (Thailand, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and the United States) more than tripled, while global trade has only risen about 20 percent. India and Thailand are driving this growth, as government policies are causing both countries to hold record stocks. These stocks are overhanging the market and could put pressure on world prices in the coming year.

Selected Exporters

  • Thailand, at 8.0 million tons, is forecast to be the world’s largest exporter once again as the government releases stocks, boosting trade 1.5 million tons over 2012.
  • Vietnam is steady at 7.0 million tons on a record crop and competitive prices.
  • India is projected at 6.0 million tons, down 1.0 million from 2012, as traders sell stocks accumulated during the nearly 4-year ban on non-basmati exports.
  • Pakistan is expected to rise 250,000 tons to 4.0 million on a larger crop.


Coarse Grain Production Surges, Building Stocks


Coarse grain production is forecast to soar by over 85 million tons to a record, led by a record U.S. corn crop. Argentina is expected to have significant gains in production from both corn and barley. With global coarse grain consumption climbing by just 60 million tons (largely corn for feed), stocks will grow by nearly 25 million tons.

Coarse Grain Trade Rises

The United States and Argentina account for most of the 6 million tons of expanded coarse grain exports. China leads the growth in imports, primarily because of higher corn trade, but EU, Korea, Japan, and Mexico are also higher.

Global corn production is forecast at a record 946 million tons, up more than 75 million from last year. Global consumption is projected to climb over 50 million tons to a record 921 million. While the global boost in production is largely in the United States, consumption growth is split between U.S. and foreign markets, particularly China. Corn used for ethanol in the United States is unchanged from last year and essentially flat for the third year in a row.

World corn imports are expected to grow for the second consecutive year, about half (2 million tons) by China. The EU, Japan, and Korea also have strong growth.

Corn Ending Stocks Rebound

World barley supplies remain relatively tight, at their lowest level in 5 years. Trade is down slightly as feed barley import demand is expected lower, mainly from Saudi Arabia. A major trade development is the emergence of Argentina as the largest exporter of barley. Argentina continues to supply feed barley to markets in the Middle East and North Africa, which in recent years were mostly served by Ukraine, Russia, and the EU. Exports from these countries will again be limited by relatively tight supplies. Australian exports are forecast down on a lower crop.

Global sorghum trade is forecast to grow sharply because of a recovery in U.S. exportable supplies and strong demand from Mexico.


Global coarse grains are mostly unchanged for production, but trade is boosted about 1 million tons (mostly corn). China’s corn imports are raised to a record; EU is also raised, but Japan and Korea are lowered. U.S. corn exports are unchanged, and the season-average farm price is lowered slightly.


Corn Daily Export Bids

U.S. corn export quotes generally fell in the first half of April and then began rising through early May as old-crop supplies tightened. Even so, the average price for the month ended $5/ton lower at $277/ton. Argentine quotes fell, doubling the discount against U.S. prices (to $30/ton).

Brazilian corn prices for export remained unavailable into early May.


Selected Exporters

  • Brazilian corn is boosted 1.0 million tons to 10.5 million on record production.
  • Russian corn is raised 300,000 tons to a record 1.5 million due to strong demand from the EU and the region.
  • South African corn is cut 500,000 tons to 1.5 million on tighter exportable supplies.
  • Australian barley is raised 500,000 to 4.5 million based on an aggressive shipment pace.
  • Canadian barley is up 300,000 tons to 1.3 million on pace.
  • Russian barley is raised 400,000 tons to 2.7 million based on less competition from Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian barley is slashed 1.1 million tons to 2.3 million as lower-than-expected new crop supplies will likely limit late-season exports.

May 2012

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