EU sees smaller wheat crop, record exports in 2022/23

person holding brown dried wheat on his hands
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PARIS, (Reuters) – The European Union’s executive lowered its forecast for soft wheat production in the bloc in 2022/23 to well below last season’s level, but maintained its outlook for record exports.

In supply and demand data, the European Commission pegged usable production of common wheat, or soft wheat, in the EU at 125.0 million tonnes, down from 130.4 million projected a month ago and 130.1 million in 2021/22.

In an accompanying presentation, the Commission cited reduced yields in several countries, including France, Poland, Romania and Spain, without giving further details.

Other forecasters have also lowered their expectations for the EU wheat crop following drought and heatwaves. 

However, the Commission kept unchanged its projection of EU soft wheat exports in 2022/23 at 38 million tonnes, which would be a record for the bloc and well above a reduced estimate of 2021/22 exports at 30 million tonnes.

Traders and analysts are expecting strong demand for EU wheat in the 2022/23 season that starts this month, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related sanctions disrupt Black Sea grain trade.

The reduced harvest forecast led the Commission to cut its projection of EU soft wheat stocks at the end of 2022/23 by 4 million tonnes to 13.2 million tonnes.

It made smaller cuts to harvest forecasts for other crops.

Usable production of maize was pegged at 71.7 million tonnes against 72.5 million a month earlier, while the projected barley crop was trimmed to 52.2 million tonnes from 52.3 million.

For rapeseed, the EU’s main oilseed crop, expectations for 2022/23 production were cut to 17.9 million from 18.1 million.

In demand revisions, the Commission raised its forecast for EU maize imports in 2022/23 by 2 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes, although this would be below 2021/22’s estimated 16.5 million tonnes.

It also raised its outlook for EU sunflower oil imports in 2022/23 to 2 million tonnes from 1.5 million.

EU trade data has pointed to steady flows of sunflower oil from Ukraine, the world’s biggest exporter, despite the closure of sea ports that has hit overall crop exports. 

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