LONDON, ENGLAND — At its meeting Dec. 6, the International Grains Council (IGC) considered the latest developments in the global grains and oilseeds markets, the medium-term supply and demand outlook, recent changes in national policies and various administrative matters.

The IGC also welcomed Iraq as the 27th member of the Grains Trade Convention, 1995, effective Jan. 1, 2013. Croatia attended the Session for the first time, following its accession to the E.U. in July.

The meeting was followed by a roundtable discussion on importer and exporter perspectives on prospects for global soybean and soymeal trade.

The council’s latest forecasts for supply and demand indicated more comfortable conditions for 2013-14 than in the previous year. As outlined in the IGC’s monthly Grain Market Reports, the most recent published on Nov. 28, a record grains crop was forecast for 2013-14. While demand was also expected to recover, a substantial surplus was expected and end-season stocks were forecast up by 41 million tonnes year-over-year at a four-year high, including a 27 million tonne expansion for maize. 

The daily IGC Grains and Oilseeds Index (GOI) had weakened steadily as supply prospects improved, and was down 15% year-over-year, led by a 32% decline for maize.

The Secretariat gave its first estimate for wheat production in the next crop year (2014-15), based on the progress of winter wheat crops. While the global area was expected to rise, yields were likely to return to more average levels from the excellent results seen in 2013-14, resulting in a forecast 1.6% decline in world output.

Rice supplies were expected to remain comfortable with ample availabilities in the major exporters, and trade set to expand with larger deliveries to Far East Asia. For oilseeds, the Secretariat highlighted that global soybean trade was likely to exceed 100m t for the first time in 2013-14, led by particularly strong demand from China, with Brazil consolidating its position as key supplier. Canada’s record canola crop had improved global rapeseed/canola supplies, with stocks seen rising to a three–year high.

The Secretariat also presented its annual assessment of the five-year projections for supply and demand balances from 2014-15 to 2018-19:
• World total grains output was expected to rise by an average of 1.6% p.a. over the outlook period, exceeding 2 billion tons by 2016-17.
• Firm demand growth was also anticipated and, while the absolute level of stocks was likely to rise, the ratio of stocks to use was projected to fall slightly to 18% by the end of 2018-19, from 20% anticipated for 2013-14.
• The projections indicated a marked increase in trade volumes through the five-year period, as higher demand was met by production growth in the key exporters, most notably in South America and the Black Sea region.
• Rice output and demand growth were expected to be closely matched, and world stocks were likely to remain comfortable.
• Soybean and rapeseed/canola production growth was expected to outpace grains and rice, against a background of strong demand from the crushing industry.

The IGC agreed to make the projections publicly available on its website.

The council considered various administrative matters including an update from the Secretariat on progress with its economic work program and its involvement in the AMIS initiative. Earl Geddes, chief executive officer of the Canadian International Grains Institute updated members on the grain marketing transition in Canada.

The council received statements from the OECD and WTO on recent developments, and welcomed the participation of observers from WFP, Bolivia, Brazil, Taipei (Chinese) Separate Customs Territory and Vietnam. 

The council welcomed Saudi Arabia’s invitation to host its 40th Session and an International Grains Forum in Jeddah in December 2014.