LONDON, ENGLAND – World wheat flour trade in marketing year 2022-23 was revised downward by 500,000 tonnes (wheat equivalent) in the latest International Grains Council (IGC) quarterly forecast, which appeared in the Council’s July Grain Market Report, released on July 21.

The IGC projected this year’s global flour trade at 14.3 million tonnes, which would still be slightly higher than the 14.2 million tonnes traded in 2021-22 and the highest since 2019-20, when 14.7 million tonnes were shipped.

“While trade statistics of the 2022-23 season are limited at this stage, the (quarterly) downgrade mainly reflects an idea that potentially elevated prices could hamper demand for wheat-based products and associated imports of wheat flour in some regions, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, where aggregated imports are now pegged at 2.1 million tonnes, down by 300,000 year-on-year and 200,000 below the April outlook,” the IGC said.

The IGC noted that aside from price considerations, sub-Saharan Africa imports will likely hinge on supplies from Egypt, which traditionally sells most of its flour exports to Efitrea, Somalia and Sudan.

Uzbekistan, perennially one of the world’s largest flour importers, is expected to import about 50,000 tonnes less than a year ago due to a larger-than-usual domestic wheat crop. Another major importer, Brazil, is projected to bring in 30,000 tonnes less than it did in the 2021-22 season.

Meanwhile, Iraq, the world’s largest flour importer in recent years, is forecast by the IGC to import 2.7 million tonnes in 2022-23, 100,000 tonnes more than the previous IGC quarterly forecast and 500,000 tonnes more than a year ago.

The IGC noted that Iraq’s import total, if realized, would be “at the highest level in five years, linked to prospects for poor domestic production and larger availabilities in Turkey, the main country’s origin for flour deliveries.”

The report showed that European Union imports totals, both for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, are raised markedly from before, based on much stronger than anticipated deliveries by the United Kingdom. The EU is projected to import 260,000 tonnes of flour in 2022-23, up 110,000 from the IGC’s April projection.

The outlook for imports by war-torn Afghanistan fell slightly, to 1.6 million tonnes from 1.8 million, which would match the 2021-22 total but is well below 2020-21, when it was the world’s leading flour importer at 2.47 million tonnes.

The world’s top flour exporter, Turkey, is poised to export just over 5 million tonnes in 2022-23, according to the IGC, which would be its highest total since the 2018-19 season.

Kazakhstan is projected to see a slight drop in flour exports, shipping 2.2 million tonnes this year, 50,000 tonnes less than in 2021-22.