Consultancy Strategie Grains raised its estimate of this year’s soft wheat harvest in the European Union by 2 million tonnes to a record 149.5 million tonnes due to better than expected crops in the Baltic States, France, Britain and Germany. The EU soft wheat crop would now be 400,000 tonnes above a previous record volume harvested last year, the French consultancy said in a monthly report released on Thursday.
It has lifted its soft wheat crop estimate by 5.5 million tonnes over two months as evidence mounted that wheat had been mostly spared by dry, hot weather this summer. The sharp upward revision to this year’s harvest contributed to an increase of more than 2 million tonnes in Strategie Grains’ forecast of soft wheat stocks at the end of 2015/16, now put at 18.4 million tonnes, 4.9 million above what were already ample stocks in 2014/15, it said. The increased stockpile also reflected a cut to expected wheat demand, as Strategie lowered animal feed use by 500,000 tonnes in favour of maize and also trimmed EU soft wheat exports by the same amount to 26.5 million tonnes.
The reduced export outlook mainly reflected difficulties for France, the EU’s top wheat exporter, in competing with Black Sea origins in North Africa, it said. In addition, Strategie Grains raised its forecast for imports from third countries by 500,000 tonnes to 3.6 million, due to the competitiveness of Ukrainian wheat in the last few weeks. The consultancy also raised its estimate for the ongoing maize harvest in the 28-member bloc, putting it at 57.6 million tonnes, up 200,000 tonnes on last month’s estimate but still 24 percent below a record 75.9 million tonnes last year.
Maize (corn) has been the cereal to suffer most from low rainfall and record temperatures in Europe this summer as the harsh weather came in the middle of its growth cycle, whereas wheat and barley were being harvested. The consultancy increased by 200,000 tonnes its estimate of 2015 barley output, now pegged at 60.6 million tonnes.