PARIS, FRANCE — The forecast for 2022-23 soft wheat exports from France outside the European Union has continued to climb to 10.6 million tonnes, 21% more than last year, on strong demand from North Africa, Reuters reported, citing farm office FranceAgriMer.

France, the EU’s biggest producer of wheat, in December had been expected to ship 10.3 million tonnes of the grain, which had been an increase of 300,000 tonnes from the previous month, according to FranceAgriMer.

“What is clear is that demand is still significant from the Maghreb, particularly Morocco,” Paul Le Bideau, deputy head of FranceAgriMer’s grains unit, told reporters.

The competitiveness of French wheat in North African markets had been helped by rising insurance costs for shipping supplies from Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, Le Bideau noted.

Market participants consulted by FranceAgriMer had estimates for French non-EU soft wheat exports ranging between 10 million and 11 million tonnes, he said, adding there was still much uncertainty over the impact of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

FranceAgriMer trimmed its outlook for soft wheat exports within the EU to 6.64 million tonnes from 6.73 million. It reduced its projection of French soft wheat stocks at the end of the 2022-23 season on June 30 to 2.33 million tonnes, from 2.55 million projected in December.

For barley, the office raised its 2022-23 ending stocks outlook to 1.97 million tonnes from 1.85 million previously on reduced expectations for feed use and exports due to uncompetitive barley prices.

For maize, forecast stocks at the end of 2022-23 were raised slightly, to 2.3 million tonnes from 2.23 million, as a reduced outlook for intra-EU exports and upward revisions to harvest supply and imports outweighed an increased forecast for feed use.