ROME, ITALY — Global trade of cereals is forecast to decline by 1.2% to 473 million tonnes in the 2021-22 marketing year compared to the previous year’s record total, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In its Cereal Supply and Demand Brief released on May 9, the FAO said the decline is associated with maize and other coarse grains, while trade volumes for rice are predicted to grow by 3.8% and for wheat by 1%.

With almost all crops harvested for the 2020-21 cycle, the FAO pegs the world cereal production at 2.799 billion tonnes, an 0.8% increase from the 2019-20 outturn.

World cereal utilization for the 2021-22 period is projected to increase by 0.9% from the previous year to 2.785 billion tonnes.

The FAO’s new estimate for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2022 now stands at 856 million tonnes, 2.8% above opening levels, led by a build-up in maize inventories partly due to suspended exports from Ukraine. If confirmed, the global cereal stocks-to-use ratio would end the period unchanged at a “relatively comfortable supply level” of 29.9%, according to the FAO.

The FAO still predicts global wheat production to grow in 2022, to 782 million tonnes. That forecast incorporates an expected 20% decline in harvested area in Ukraine as well as drought-driven output declines in Morocco.

For coarse grains, the brief indicates that Brazil is on course to harvest a record maize crop of 116 million tonnes in 2022, while weather conditions are likely to dent maize output in Argentina and South Africa. Initial planting surveys indicate that maize acreage in the United States is likely to decline by 4% amid concerns over the high costs of fertilizers and other inputs.