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Strategie Grains lifts EU soft wheat export hopes, citing German upswing

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Strategie Grains lifted, again, its forecast for European Union soft wheat exports this season, taking them more than 10m tonnes higher year on year, as it factored in an increase in an upsurge in German supplies.

 

The influential analysis group raised by 600,000 tonnes to 31.2m tonnes its forecast for EU soft wheat exports this season, which ends in June, taking the figure further above the 20.9m tonnes achieved in 2018-19.

 

The bloc’s record was set in 2014-15, of 33.3m tonnes, according to European Commission data.

 

Thursday’s upgrade represented the latest in a series by Strategie Grains – which had in July forecast EU shipments reaching 21.9m tonnes.

 

Prospects have been supported by an improved EU harvest last year, pegged at 146.4m tonnes, besides some setbacks to shipments from rival Russia from some logistical hiccups, a reluctance by farmers to sell and, until January, an appreciating rouble.

 

German improvement

The Paris-based group attributed its latest revision to improved hopes for German exports – now seen reaching 4.2m tonnes, compared with a previous estimate of 3.4m tonnes.

 

The upgrade follows a strong calendar 2020 so far for German soft wheat shipments, which at 1.18m tonnes have soared 83% from volumes exported in the same period of last year, according to European Commission data.

 

Strategie Grains highlighted demand from Turkey, which have been sent soaring by the burgeoning demands of its flour and pasta industry, after a dryness-reduced domestic harvest last year.

 

Turkey’s all-wheat imports will hit a record 10.5m tonnes this season, according to the US Department of Agriculture, with Refinitiv estimating 2019-20 volumes as of January at 7.02m tonnes – up 110% year on year.

 

French downgrade

The upgrade to expectations for Germany more than offset a 500,000-tonne downgrade, to 12.8m tonnes, in Strategie Grains’ forecast for soft wheat exports from France, the EU’s top shipper.

 

That figure takes the group’s forecast closer to that of the official FranceAgriMer bureau, which on Wednesday raised its estimate for French shipments this season to 12.7m tonnes – although acknowledging the threat posed by a strengthening euro, which makes eurozone exports less competitive.

 

Strategie Grains cited the potential for a setback to France’s exports to the key Moroccan market, given the prospect of the end next month of a period in which the North African country has suspended a 35% import duty on soft wheat.

 

Harvest expectations

The analysis group also revised forecast for EU grain harvests this year, cutting its hopes for soft wheat output, again - this time by 2.1m tonnes to 136.7m tonnes.

 

The downgrade reflected a reduced area figure, following persistent wetness which has prevented sowings and damaged crops in parts of France and the UK.

 

The overall grains harvest as pegged at 306.8m tonnes, a downgrade of 1.6m tonnes from last month’s figure, and a drop of 3.9m tonnes year on year.

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