Global Wheat Output Forecast Raised on Northern Hemisphere Crops

Aug 29, 2014 9:48 am ET

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Global wheat production will be bigger than expected a month ago as prospects improved for crops in China, the European Union and Russia, the International Grains Council said.

World wheat production will rise to a record 713.4 million metric tons in the 2014-15 season, 1.6 percent more than estimated in July and topping the prior year’s harvest of 712.5 million tons, the London-based IGC said today in an e-mailed report. Rising wheat output and higher-than-expected production of corn, or maize, means total grain harvests worldwide will be near an all-time high at 1.976 billion tons, it said.

“With larger-than-expected crops in Russia, the EU and China, world production is forecast at a new record” for wheat, the IGC said. “The world harvest will include an above-average proportion of low-medium grade supplies and, while strong competition from maize is expected in most markets, feed wheat consumption is forecast to rise.”

Wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade, the global benchmark, have slipped 12 percent in the past year on the outlook for ample grain supplies. Prices fell to a four-year low on July 29 and have rebounded about 11 percent since then amid concerns that supplies from the Black Sea region will be disrupted because of unrest between Ukraine and Russia.

Global wheat trade was pegged at 146 million tons, higher than last month’s forecast at 145 million tons, the IGC said. Inventories at the end of the 2014-15 season were estimated at 195 million tons, “only slightly higher” than a previous forecast of 193 million tons because of increasing demand, according to the report.

Grain Stockpiles

Total stockpiles of grain at the end of 2014-15 will be 426 million tons, a 15-year high, the IGC said. Inventories will rise even though increasing demand for livestock feed will push worldwide consumption to a record 1.952 billion tons.

Global production of corn will rise to 973 million tons, up from the July forecast of 969 million tons. Output still will be below the past season’s level at 982 million tons. Stockpiles will rise to 190 million tons by the end of 2014-15, compared with a previous estimate of 187 million tons.

“Northern Hemisphere yield prospects continued to improve in August” for corn, the IGC said. In the U.S., the top producer, “crops have benefited from a prolonged period of benign weather.”

World production of soybeans will be 304 million tons, unchanged from last month’s forecast, while bigger than the 282 million tons harvested the prior year, the IGC said. The rice harvest may be a record 478 million tons, the agency said, issuing its first estimate for the 2014-15 season. In the prior year, production was 476 million tons.