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French soft wheat stocks to rise further than thought, thanks to export slowdown

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FranceAgriMer raised its forecast for French wheat stocks close to a multi-year high, despite a downgraded harvest estimate, as it cut hopes for exports, after a sharp slowdown in shipments outside the European Union.


The official French crop bureau raised by nearly 150,000 tonnes, to 3.33m tonnes, its forecast for domestic soft wheat stocks at the close of 2017-18.


The revision doubled to 12.9% the growth in inventories expected over the season, and took the carryout estimate 12,000 tonnes from a high reached at the close of 2015-16, when supplies were swollen by France’s first 40m-tonne harvest.


The stocks upgrade came despite the bureau implementing the 400,000-tonne downgrade, to 37.5m tonnes, in the official estimate for this year’s harvest as unveiled by France’s farm ministry earlier this week, and reflecting a weakened sowings figure.


Below average


However, FranceAgriMer estimated that a higher proportion of the downgraded crop would make it to market.


And it cut by 300,000 tonnes to 9.90m tonnes its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the EU, a figure which - while nearly double the figure last season, when supplies were sapped by a poor 2016 harvest – would represent a below-par result.


French soft wheat exports outside the EU have averaged 10.2m tonnes over the past five seasons, even including the sub-5m-tonne figure for 2016-17, which was the lowest in a decade.


Export slowdown


The downgrade to the forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the EU follows a sharp slowdown in volumes for September, the latest month for which data are available, to 500,599 tonnes, from the near-775,000 tonnes shipped in August.


Only one country, Algeria, took a substantial volume in September, of 298,595 tonnes, with Cuba the second-ranked destination on 45,000 tonnes.

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