SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Wheat production estimates for the 2021-22 South Korea crop have been revised down by 11%, while imports have been raised by 12%, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Yields were down 19% from the previous marketing year due to weather damage, the USDA said.

With the smaller crop (22,406 tonnes) and a 12% increase in consumption to 3.9 million tonnes due to expanding demand for both milling and feed grade wheat, South Korea has been forced to depend on higher imports this marketing year.

The USDA noted that “a major Korean bakery company involved in wheat milling has been successfully expanding its business for both domestic and overseas bakery markets, driving up wheat demand.”

Imports are projected to reach 4.3 million tonnes in 2021-22, including 2.8 million for milling wheat and 1.5 feed grade wheat, the USDA said.

“This import estimate hinges to a large extent on the continued availability of competitively priced feed wheat,” the USDA said.

The report noted that South Korea flour imports declined 12% in 2020-21 to 16,272 tonnes (wheat equivalent) following declining demand from small-sized restaurants and noodle manufacturers “who are traditionally the most loyal users of cheaply priced flour.”