Would be fourth year in a row of increases.
LONDON, ENGLAND — Prospects for world flour trade in 2016-17 were boosted to a new record in revised data issued by the International Grains Council. As of mid-August, the IGC placed likely world flour exports at 15.4 million tonnes. This total was up 350,000 tonnes from the initial forecast and showed flour trade rising 1% over 15.2 million in 2015-16. These are the first years in which flour trade exceeded 15 million tonnes.

IGC data on flour trade are in wheat equivalent. The new export record now indicated for 2016-17 was equal to nearly 250 million cwts of flour.

This promises to be the fourth year in a row that global flour exports have increased. The upturn began from 12.650 million tonnes of wheat equivalent in 2012-13.  Only the current crop year and its previous season have established records, exceeding the mark of 14.560 million tonnes in 2011-12.

With an increase of 300,000 tonnes in its flour exporting prospect, Turkey boosted its leadership among nations in this trade. Turkey’s flour exports in 2016-17 were forecast by the IGC at 4.950 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, or nearly 80 million cwts of flour. Except for U.S. shipments approaching 100 million cwts to provide food relief to Europe as World War II ended, this would rank Turkey as the largest flour exporter in history.

Turkey’s shipments this season would be only slightly ahead of 4.940 million tonnes in 2015-16 and compare with 3.531 million shipped in 2014-15.

Turkey has been the world leader in flour exporting since 2011-12 when its shipments first exceeded those of Kazakhstan. In 2016-17 Turkey will ship 65% more flour than the former Soviet satellite, which is projected to export 3 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, the same as in the prior year and compared with 2.385 million in 2014-15.

Based on the IGC estimates, Turkey will ship a third of all flour exports in 2016-17 and Kazakhstan will account for 20%, thus giving the two countries a market share of more than 50%.

In commenting on the record flour exports this season, the IGC said business was “underpinned by continued solid demand in Asia.” With imports for Asia forecast to reach 7.7 million tonnes of wheat equivalent, against 7.4 million in 2015-16, “Asia accounts for about half the global total,” the Council commented.

Iraq and Afghanistan, two nations where domestic milling industries are disrupted by a range of wars and political conflicts, stand as the leading flour importers in 2016-17. The Council showed Afghanistan in the lead with prospective imports of 2.200 million tonnes in wheat equivalent, against 2.140 million in the preceding season and 1.816 million in 2014-15. The current forecast for Afghanistan was increased 400,000 tonnes over the initial figure compiled by the Council last May and probably represents a new peak in flour imports by any country, at least in recent years. This gain mainly accounted for the rise in the global outlook.

Iraq easily held on to second place even though its flour imports were expected to be 200,000 tonnes less than indicated a quarter earlier. That war-torn nation’s flour imports were now projected at 2.100 million tonnes in 2016-17, against 2 million in the preceding season and 1.488 million in 2015-16. Even with the reduced forecast, Iraq’s flour imports would set a record for that nation.

Uzbekistan is the only other nation where flour imports were forecast above 1 million tonnes, at 1.150 million tonnes. This compares with 1.200 million in 2015-16 and 1.137 million in 2014-15.

Other ranking importers included several nations in sub-Sahara Africa, such as Sudan at 850,000 tonnes of wheat equivalent, and Angola at 640,000 tonnes.

Syria and Brazil were the only two countries projected to import 500,000 tonnes.

European Union once was the major exporter of wheat flour. Its outgo in 2016-17 was projected by the Council at 940,000 tonnes, the same as in 2015-16.

For the United States, the Council saw little change in exports, forecast for this season at 435,000 tonnes of wheat equivalent (nearly 7 million cwts), against 440,000 in the prior crop year. U.S. imports were forecast at 300,000 tonnes, compared with 355,000 in 2015-16.