ROME, ITALY — Food commodity markets, in particular for cereals, are set to be more balanced in 2013-14, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Food Outlook report published on June 13. 

World food imports in 2013 are tentatively forecast at $1.09 trillion, close to last year's level, but 13% below the record of 2011, the biannual report on global food markets said. Higher bills for fish and livestock products are anticipated to offset lower expenditures on most other commodities, especially sugar.

Prospects for abundant domestic crops in the least developed countries (LDCs), low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) and countries in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to limit their import needs. 

With the world cereal harvest forecast to surge to a record 2.46 billion tonnes in 2013, cereal prices could ease, with markets becoming calmer, Food Outlook said.

Latest indications point to a more comfortable world cereal supply-and-demand balance in the new 2013-14 marketing season. After a relatively tight situation and high prices in 2012-13, "good production prospects and a likely replenishment in world stocks could pave the way for calmer markets and some easing of prices in the new season," the report said.

This year's forecast record cereal production would represent a 6.5% increase on last year's reduced level, supported by higher global wheat output and a sharp expected rebound of maize production in the U.S. Rice production is also set to increase in 2013, although concerns over diminishing prices may dampen growth.

Global cereal utilization is forecast to reach 2.402 billion tonnes in 2013-14, which is 3% above 2012-13. Much of the growth would stem from higher use of maize for feed and industrial purposes in the U.S.

Total feed use of coarse grains is forecast to be greater in developing than in developed countries for the second consecutive season.

Based on current prospects, by the end of seasons in 2014, world cereal stocks could register an 11% recovery to 569 million tonnes, the highest level in 12 years.

World trade in cereals is forecast to reach 306 million tonnes in 2013-14, similar to the 2012-13 level. A reduction in wheat trade is expected to offset a rebound in maize while rice trade in 2014 is forecast to change little.