Demand pushing global wheat prices higher

by Susan Reidy
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Global wheat prices are up 4% in 2017-18.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — With world wheat consumption higher than production for the first time since 2012-13, prices are on the rise, according to a U.S. Wheat Associates’ market analyst.

The average global wheat price increased 4% year-over-year to $203 per tonne in 2017-18, according to data from Global Trade Atlas.

Most of that price increase occurred in the last five months of the marketing year as the market digested lower Northern Hemisphere wheat production estimates and strong demand for 2018-19.

Analyst Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann looked at production estimates and average wheat prices from major exporting countries and regions.

In the United States, the average price for wheat rose an average $47 per tonne from a year ago, according to USW’s Price Report.

Hot, dry conditions in the U.S. hard red winter (HRW) growing region decreased yield potential and pushed prices up for this largest U.S. wheat class.

The USDA forecasts U.S. 2018-19 wheat production at 49.7 million tonnes, up 5%, but still 11% below the five-year average.

In Canada, the International Grains Council reported the average price for Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) at 13.5% protein (13.5% moisture basis) from Vancouver rose to $255 per tonne in May. This is up $24 per tonne from May 2017 and reflects the tighter global supply and demand picture.

Common wheat production is estimated at 25.4 million tonnes, up slightly from 2017-18, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

A 15% bump in spring wheat planted area contrasts with an 11% drop in winter wheat planted area. Predicted 2018-19 durum production will increase 15% to 5.7 million tonnes due to an 11% year-over-year increase in planted area. Canadian durum prices at $282 per tonne are an average $7 per tonne above 2017 levels, Bryant-Erdmann said.

In the E.U., the French wheat price reached $205 per tonne in May, up from $187 per tonne in the previous year. French production is expected to increase to 37.8 million tonnes, up 4% due to higher yields and larger planted area.

E.U. wheat production in 2018-19 is expected to fall 1.80 million tonnes from 2017-18 to 140 million tonnes according to Stratégie Grains.

Australian wheat prices are up 22% to $239 per tonne, according to IGC data.

In June, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) forecasted 2018-19 Australian wheat production to rise 3% from 2017-18 to 21.9 million tonnes, despite a 3% decrease in planted area to 29.5 million acres.

Argentina’s average wheat prices reached $261 per tonne, an increase of 38% year-over-year. Wheat production is estimated at 19.5 million tonnes, up 8% from 2017-18 and 35% higher than the five-year average.

In the Black Sea region, the average price for Russian 4th grade milling wheat was $213 per tonne, up 14% from the previous year.

Expectations for lower 2018-19 production in the Black Sea region are supporting export prices, Bryant-Erdmann said. The USDA projects combined 2018-19 output from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will drop 14% to 109 million tonnes based on an expected return to trendline yields.

UkrAgroConsult reported Ukrainian wheat planted area increased 2% to 15.5 million acres. The Ukrainian meteorological service expects wheat yields to fall 8% to 56.5 bushels per acre. Ukrainian wheat production for 2018-19 is forecast at 23.9 million tonnes, compared to 25.4 million tonnes in 2017-18.

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