By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst
In its December World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, USDA now expects world wheat production for marketing year 2019/20 to increase by 5 percent to 765 million metric tons (MMT) from last year’s 731 MMT. Lower expected production in Argentina and Australia likely encouraged USDA to also increase its forecast for U.S. wheat exports in 2019/20 by 4 percent. Already expected, record-setting total use was also raised.
USDA said increased wheat production is mainly in the Northern Hemisphere. The report noted European Union (EU) 2019/20 wheat production increased 12 percent over last year to 154 MMT, total Black Sea wheat production increased 6 percent over 2018/19 to 131 MMT, and U.S. wheat production increased 2 percent year-over-year to 52.3 MMT.
That volume more than offset lower output south of the equator where prolonged droughts continue to challenge wheat producers in Argentina and Australia. Argentinian wheat production is forecast to fall 3 percent from last year to 19.0 MMT. Australian wheat production is expected to decline by 7 percent year-over-year to 16.1 MMT, the country’s lowest wheat output since 2007/08.
USDA forecasts total U.S. wheat exports in 2019/20 will reach 26.5 MMT, up from its November estimate of 25.9 MMT and 4 percent greater than last year’s 25.5 MMT. As of November 28, according to USDA export sales data, total U.S. wheat exports of 16.5 MMT outpace last year’s sales by 9 percent. Exports to five of the top 10 markets for U.S. wheat are ahead of last year’s pace. Notably, U.S. wheat exports to Mexico are up 27 percent on the year. Hard red winter (HRW) and durum exports in 2019/20 both outpace last year’s sales.
Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Gulf hard red spring (HRS) free on board (FOB) prices have remained steady and high following a wet, difficult harvest and minimal farmer selling. Despite these higher price levels, USDA increased its HRS export estimate from 6.94 MMT in October to 7.08 MMT in December.
USDA also predicts a significant increase in total wheat consumption in 2019/20 compared to last year. Total global consumption is expected to reach a record 754 MMT, 2 percent greater than 2018/19. USDA expects the top three importers of wheat, Egypt, Indonesia and Brazil, to increase total wheat imports year-over-year. Total wheat imported by these three countries is expected to increase 4 percent over last year to 31.2 MMT.