LONDON, ENGLAND — With shipments to parts of Asia falling short of expectations, the International Grains Council’s (IGC) forecast for global wheat flour trade in 2021-22 has been reduced by 900,000 tonnes (wheat equivalent), to 13.9 million tonnes, a decline of 6%.

The report, issued by the IGC on April 21, showed that the figure for the current year, which ends June 30, was slightly higher than last year’s 13.7 million tonnes traded but still nearly 4 million tonnes below the record set in 2016-17.

The IGC said the bulk of the quarterly revision is linked to reduced outlooks in what traditionally have been the world’s top wheat importers. Iraqi imports are forecast to fall 500,000 from the previous quarter and Afghanistan’s projected intake is expected to decline by 300,000 tonnes.

“Nonetheless, imports by Iraq are still expected to post a sizeable increase year-on-year, to 2.2 million tonnes (up from 1.9 million last year), following a disappointing domestic wheat harvest,” the IGC said.

A year-on-year decline of flour imports by Afghanistan, from 2.5 million tonnes to 1.7 million, largely can be traced to a 22% drop in shipments from Kazakhstan, which has limited wheat and flour exports due to food security concerns since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February.

The IGC noted that projections for smaller flour importers such as China, Syria, Yemen and parts of sub-Saharan Africa also are revised downward based on the pace of accumulated arrivals.

In addition to Kazakhstan, other major exporters downgraded from the previous forecast are Turkey ( down 600,000 tonnes), Ukraine ( down 300,000 tonnes) and Egypt (down 200,000 tonnes).

India, which recently has emerged as significant wheat exporter, also is taking on a bigger role in flour exports.

“At around 400,000 tonnes, India’s wheat flour shipments in the July-January period already exceed its full-year volume of 2020-21, with sizeable year-on-year increases in deliveries to Indonesia, the UAE, Sri Lanka, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa,” the IGC said.

In the IGC’s initial outlook for 2022-23, it forecasts global flour trade to expand by 6%, to 14.8 million tonnes, including larger imports from Iraq, “where poor production prospects are likely to keep import needs at a historically high level.”

Imports by Afghanistan also are projected to edge higher in the upcoming season, assuming a rebound in shipments from its key supplier, Kazakhstan.

The Council foresees Turkey remaining the world’s largest exporter in 2022-23, with a projected increase in shipments supported by a potentially larger wheat harvest and strong overseas demand.

If realized, the IGC’s projection for wheat flour trade in 2022-23 would be the largest since 14.7 million tonnes were shipped in 2019-20.