LONDON, ENGLAND — Mainly because of upgraded export outlooks for Russia and Turkey, the International Grains Council (IGC) has revised its quarterly forecast for 2023-24 global wheat flour trade 400,000 tonnes higher, to 14.5 million tonnes, according to a report released on Oct. 19.

The revised forecast would mean a slightly higher trade volume over the previous year, but it would still be below the five-year average of 14.9 million tonnes and well below the record total of 17.6 million in 2016-17. The IGC said the year-over-year projected increase partly stems from brisker regional trade in South America, pegged at 1.1 million tonnes, up 200,000 tonnes from the previous year.

“Grain and flour shipments from Argentina to neighboring countries are set to rebound on the back of a potentially larger domestic crop,” the IGC said.

Sub-Saharan Africa imports also are expected to edge higher by 200,000 tonnes to 2 million tonnes, with increased incoming shipments expected in Sudan and Somalia, “as available trade data show larger-than-expected deliveries from Turkey in the first two months of the season.”

Due to efforts to develop local milling operations in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, which are perennially among the top wheat flour importers, shipments into Far East Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States are projected to contract year-on-year, the Council said.

Flour shipments to another major importer, Iraq, are seen declining by 400,000 tonnes year-on-year to 1.7 million, according to the IGC, with a bumper domestic crop likely to cap import needs. Most of Iraq’s flour will come from Turkey and Russia, the Council said.

Meanwhile, imports for another Near East Asia country, Syria, are expected to increase “as limited supplies and potentially firmer food demand could see Syria source more flour this season, also mostly from Turkey.”

On the export side, shipments by Turkey are forecast to reach a record 5.5 million tonnes, up 600,000 tonnes from 2022-23, accounting for 40% of global trade, the IGC said. Turkey already has dispatched around 1.1 million tonnes during the first two months of this season, compared to 700,000 during the same period last year.

Kazakhstan, another major exporter, is forecast to ship 2.5 million tonnes in 2023-24, about 300,000 tonnes lower than the prior year, as its export potential may be hampered by a smaller wheat crop and reported quality issues, the IGC said.