France: Barley, soft wheat exports and stocks expected to increase sharply this year
Farm office FranceAgriMer on July 13 projected a sharp rise in French soft wheat exports and stocks as the European Union's biggest grain grower is set for a rebound in harvest production.
Soft wheat exports outside the 27-country EU were forecast to reach 10.5 million tonnes in 2021/22, up 40% from 7.50 million in 2020/21, FranceAgriMer said in its first outlook for the new crop year that started on July 1.
Soft wheat exports within the EU were pegged at 7.3 million tonnes, up 22% from an estimated 6.0 million in 2020/21.
Soaring costs for sea freight could favour French shipments to nearby destinations around the Mediterranean, Marc Zribi, head of FranceAgriMer's crop unit, told reporters.
"Freight is really becoming a factor of competitiveness in the price of exported grain," Zribi said.
Traders say high shipping costs could at the same time curb French exports to China, a major outlet for French wheat in the past two seasons.
The office's supply and demand outlook was based on a farm ministry estimate of 2021 soft wheat production of 37.1 million tonnes, up 27% from last year.
Despite heavy rain that has slowed early harvesting, crop damage appeared limited and forecasts of drier, warmer weather by the end of the week were easing concerns, Benoit Pietrement, a farmer and head of FranceAgriMer's grain committee, said.
Soft wheat stocks at the end of 2021/22 were expected to reach 3.7 million tonnes, up nearly 39% from 2.7 million in 2020/21, FranceAgriMer said.
For barley, FranceAgriMer projected end-of-season stocks would rise by almost 16% to 1.3 million tonnes in 2021/22, also supported by an expected increase in production.
Barley grain exports were seen increasing slightly, with shipments outside the EU forecast at 3.3 million tonnes against 3.2 million in 2020/21 and intra-EU exports pegged at 2.5 million tonnes against 2.4 million.
An expected upturn in beer demand as countries emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic was seen supporting barley-based malt domestic production and exports in 2021/22, FranceAgriMer said.
FranceAgriMer did not give 2021/22 forecasts for maize, which is not harvested until the autumn.
For 2020/21, it raised its estimate of maize ending stocks to 1.9 million tonnes from 1.8 million last month due to a downward revision to intra-EU exports but said stocks remained low.
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