France: Farm office cuts forecasts of wheat, barley and maize ending stocks
Farm office FranceAgriMer on May 12 cut its forecasts of French wheat, barley and maize stocks at the end of this season to the lowest levels in years, underscoring tight grain supply as attention turns to harvest prospects.
For soft wheat, France's main cereal crop, stocks at the close of the 2020/21 season on June 30 are now expected at 2.6 million tonnes, down from 2.7 million projected last month, FranceAgriMer said.
The new stocks forecast was down more than 13% from 3.0 million tonnes at the end of 2019/20, and would be the smallest volume since 2013/14, it said.
France, the European Union's largest grain producer and exporter, has seen wheat supply eroded by a four-year low for harvest production in 2020 along with steady export demand, including to China.
This month's cut to the soft wheat stocks outlook notably reflected an increased projection of exports within the EU, at 5.7 million tonnes against 5.6 million last month, FranceAgriMer said.
The office also made a smaller upward revision to domestic bakery demand, factoring in recent data and expectations that easing coronavirus restrictions would help late-season consumption, Marion Duval, deputy head of FranceAgriMer's grain unit, told reporters.
FranceAgriMer kept unchanged its forecast of French soft wheat exports outside the EU in 2020/21 at 7.55 million tonnes, down 44% from a record 13.54 million last season.
Expected maize (corn) stocks were lowered to 1.9 million tonnes from 2.0 million in April, potentially the lowest since 2006/07 in what Duval called a "very tight" market outlook.
Forecast maize exports within the EU were revised up, reflecting French competitiveness amid surging global prices.
Projected barley stocks were trimmed to 1.02 million tonnes from 1.06 million last month, now the lowest since 2011/12.
That reflected a slight increase in expected exports outside the EU, dominated by sales to China.
For this year's harvests, the return of rain helped stabilise wheat and barley conditions after a sharp decline in April when crops endured dryness and frosts, Catherine Cauchard, head of FranceAgriMer's crop monitoring service, said.
A moisture deficit remained the main concern, including for just-planted maize, although wheat and barley would also have to be monitored for delayed signs of frost damage, she added.
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