LONDON, ENGLAND — During the International Grains Council’s (IGC) annual meeting on June 6, the council discussed the outlook for grains, rice and oilseeds based on its recently released May report. Total grains (wheat and coarse grains) production in 2017-18 was predicted to fall, although large opening inventories were seen limiting the drop in overall supplies. With contractions in the major exporters and China, world carryover stocks were projected to decline for the first time in five years, but still potentially the third largest ever. The volume of trade was projected to be second only to the previous season’s record, the IGC noted.

Global rice output in 2017-18 was seen at a new high on area gains in leading Asian producers. While overall stocks were expected to remain steady, those in the major exporters were likely to fall, with Thailand’s reserves at a nine-year low. According to the IGC, trade was forecast to stay elevated. World soybean output in 2017-18 was predicted to be close to the previous year’s high and, due to big carry-ins, supplies would be at peak levels. However, with total use expanding further, the carryovers were expected to retreat on a drawdown in some exporters, albeit still well above average. Import demand was anticipated to reach a new peak, mainly on shipments to Asia, the IGC said.

IGC considered recent changes in national policies as well as various administrative matters, including an update from the secretariat on progress with its economic work program. It was agreed that the program of work for 2017-18 would continue to concentrate on its core economic and statistical activities. The council also approved a new initiative to begin research into the global market for pulses.

The IGC agreed to further develop collaboration with the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC), by sharing information about progress on regulatory frameworks affecting trade in grains, with the aim of contributing to trade facilitation.

The council approved new membership and appointments within IGC.

Sultanate of Oman’s membership to the IGC was approved and will be affective beginning July 1. 

The council appointed Silke Boger, head of Unit, DG Agriculture and Rural Development for the European Commission, as chairman of the council for 2017-18. Takashi Hiranaka, counsellor of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for the Embassy of Japan in London, was appointed vice-chairman.

The council took note of statements by observers from the FAO, IGTC, OECD, and WTO. It also welcomed the participation of observers from Bolivia and Taipei Chinese Separate Customs Territory.

On June 6, the IGC hosted industry representatives from over 50 countries to the IGC Grains Conference, titled “Trading in an evolving market: What prospects for the future?” Among the themes discussed were the supply and demand outlook, global economic outlook: opportunities and risks, trade and logistics and the future of the flour milling sector.