LONDON, ENGLAND — World wheat flour trade for 2018-19 was revised downward by 100,000 tonnes of wheat equivalent (less than 1%) by the International Grains Council (IGC) but is still in line with last year’s estimated total of 17.1 million tonnes.

The IGC released its quarterly forecast on Nov. 22 as part of its monthly Grain Market Review report. In August, the IGC forecast 2018-19 global flour trade at 17.2 million tonnes.

“Although only a limited amount of information is so far available, volumes by the main flour exporters (mostly covering June through September) are generally below last season, particularly to sub-Saharan Africa and Pacific Asia,” the IGC said.

In the war-torn Middle East, imports are trending upward, the IGC noted.

“In contrast, tonnage shipped to (the Middle East) is slightly higher year on year, where local agricultural production and flour processing continue to be affected by conflict in some countries,” the IGC said.

Iraq and Yemen, for example, are forecast to increase imports from 2017-18 by 150,000 and 130,000 tonnes, respectively. The IGC said civil instability in Iraq, which is forecast to import what would be a record 2.85 million tonnes of flour in 2018-19, is impeding domestic wheat production.

Afghanistan is also forecast to increase imports year on year by 100,000 tonnes, to 3.1 million tonnes from 3 million, following a drought-affected wheat harvest.

Other notable revisions regarding flour imports were in Brazil, down 700,000 tonnes to 600,000 tonnes, and Canada, down to 100,000 tonnes from 150,000 tonnes.

The IGC forecasts the top five flour importers in 2018-19 as Afghanistan (3.1 million tonnes), Iraq (2.85 million tonnes), Uzbekistan (875,000 tonnes), Angola (830,000 tonnes) and Sudan (620,000 tonnes).

If the forecasted world trade total of 17.1 million tonnes is realized, it would match 2017-18 for the second highest trade total on record. The record for flour exports was established in 2016-17 at 17.7 million tonnes.

The IGC made multiple adjustments to export numbers in its November report, noting increases or decreases in 8 of the 16 regions it covers.

Although Turkey, the perennial leader in flour exports, is dealing with a currency crisis that some analysts fear will impact its ability to export flour, the IGC forecasts the country’s exports to increase slightly from a year ago, to 5 million tonnes from 4.9 million tonnes. The IGC said Turkey’s export total is boosted by strong demand from neighboring countries in the Middle East.

Increases are also forecast for Argentina, up 100,000 tonnes to 1 million tonnes, and the world’s second-leading flour exporter, Kazakhstan, up 100,000 tonnes to 3.4 million tonnes.

Iran’s export total was revised downward to 750,000 tonnes from 950,000 tonnes, this coming after the IGC had revised its export total up to 950,000 tonnes from 350,000 tonnes in its August report.

Smaller decreases from the previous report were noted in the E.U., down 50,000 tonnes to 750,000, the United States, down 50,000 tonnes to 350,000 tonnes, and Russia, down 25,000 tonnes to 325,000 tonnes.