SAIGON, VIETNAM — Wheat imports are forecast to fall sharply in Vietnam in 2019-20 due to reduced use of feed wheat, according to an Aug. 1 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA revised Vietnam’s wheat imports downward from 4.3 million tonnes to 3.5 million, which is equal to last year’s import total.

“For both 2018-19 and 2019-20, (USDA) estimates stagnant wheat consumption on both the uncompetitive price of feed wheat and the flat use of milling wheat,” the USDA said. “The latter is due to Vietnam’s Plant Protection Department’s ongoing quarantine pest inspections.”

The USDA noted that from the second half of 2016 through August 2018, feed wheat prices were running lower or at nearly the same level as corn prices. However, wheat prices have been diverting higher since then, thereby resulting in reduced feed wheat consumption.

In 2018-19, Russia became Vietnam’s leading supplier of wheat — 1.7 million tonnes and 50% of the market share — as imports from Australia fell significantly, the USDA said.

Wheat imports from the United States to Vietnamese mills had been steadily rising in recent years, but the USDA said the quarantine pest inspections have discouraged shipments of U.S. wheat since the end of 2018.

“The local wheat milling industry has faced difficulties in sourcing high quality wheat, especially soft white wheat,” the USDA said. “Feed industry sources have also noted that the inspections are reducing the use of quality ingredients in feed.”