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French wheat exports within EU to hit 11-year high

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French soft wheat exports to other countries within the European Union will hit the highest in 11 years, FranceAgriMer said, after a strong start to 2017-18 for shipments, particularly to the low countries and Spain.

FranceAgriMer, the official French crop bureau, lifted by 202,000 tonnes to 18.36m tonnes its forecast for the country's soft wheat exports in 2017-18.

The upgrade took nearly to 7m tonnes the expected rebound in French exports from levels last season which fell to a multi-year low, undermined by a rain-hit harvest.

And it reflected higher hopes for shipments to other EU countries, which were pegged at 8.05m tonnes, a result which would be the highest since 2006-07.

Strong start

The upgrade follows a rapid start to the season for France's shipments to other EU countries, which volumes up 63%, at a total of 1.31m tonnes, for July and August.

Shipments to the Netherlands, to where cargos are often transferred to other destinations, more than doubled, to 323,868 tonnes, with those to neighbouring Belgium up 50% at 360,859 tonnes.

Spain, a large grain importer to meet feed demands of its livestock industry, was the third largest destination of French soft wheat, at 243,328 tonnes.

By contrast, soft wheat exports by France, the EU's top shipper of the grain, outside the bloc were just 4% higher at 1.24m tonnes over the July-to-August period.

Stocks downgrade

The increased export forecast prompted FranceAgriMer to trim by 200,000 tonnes, to 3.18m tonnes, from 3.41m tonnes, its forecast for domestic soft wheat stocks at the close of 2017-18.

That reduced to 8.0% the expected rebuild in inventories this season, and dashed expectations of stocks hitting a multi-year high, with the downgrade taking the forecast below the 3.34m tonnes recorded at the close of 2015-16.

By Mike Verdin

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