By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst
USDA expects a lower world wheat production in 2017/18 of 751 million metric tons (MMT) (27.6 billion bushels), down slightly from the record high 754 MMT (27.7 billion bushels) in 2016/17 but 5 percent above the 5-year average. If realized, it would be the first production decline since 2012/13. While world wheat production is projected to decline year over year, USDA expects slightly higher total consumption in 2017/18 at 740 MMT (27.2 billion bushels), compared to the 5-year average of 705 MMT (25.9 billion bushels). With production expected to decline and consumption forecast to rise, availability of global wheat supplies is largely dependent on location and whether or not that country is an importer, exporter or China.
Record-large world carry-in stocks offset the production decline with total world supply reaching a projected 1007 MMT (37.0 billion bushels), up 12.4 MMT from 2016/17. However, removing China’s 2017/18 projected beginning stocks and production from global wheat supply reveals roughly a 3 MMT decline in global supplies. While small, the decline in global wheat supplies is compounded by a shift in location, which has implied impacts on availability, quality and, of course, price.
Exporting countries. USDA forecasts supplies in the top wheat exporting countries of Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU), Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and the United States to decrease by 2 percent or roughly 10 MMT year over year to 460 MMT. A 9 MMT year over year increase in exporter beginning stocks partially offsets the anticipated 5 percent decrease in production. However, a 19 percent increase in Russian wheat supplies due to sharply higher 2017/18 production is partially masking forecasted declines in five of the major eight exporters — Argentina, Australia, Canada, Ukraine and the United States. Wheat supplies in the EU are expected to remain stable year over year at 161 MMT, and Kazakhstan wheat supply is expected to increase 2 percent from 2016/17 due to higher beginning stocks.
Russian wheat supplies total 20 percent of exporting country supplies, making the quality of the crop very important. SGS Russia, an independent crop inspection service, reported preliminary data for winter wheat in south, central and the Volga-Urals regions of Russia showed lower protein levels due to favorable growing conditions which boosted yields. According to the SGS data, 22 percent of samples graded as Russian 3rd class wheat (10.5 to 11.9 percent protein on a 12 percent moisture basis (mb)); 46 percent of the samples graded as Russian 4th class wheat (8.8 to 10.5 percent protein on a 12 percent mb); and 32 percent as 5th class wheat (feed wheat). SGS reports that some areas have Fusarium damage, high levels of sprout damage and very low falling numbers; but test weight values are generally higher across all regions.
Importing countries. Importing country beginning stocks are forecast to be 10 percent lower year over at 72.4 MMT, due to customers utilizing “just in time” purchasing strategy to take advantage of low global wheat prices. Production in the importing countries is expected to increase 7 percent year over year, lifted by a 11.4 MMT increase in India after two poor crops there. Total importing country supplies are expected to increase 2 percent to 307 MMT due to the lower beginning stocks falling and increased production. However, it should be noted that 108 MMT, roughly 35 percent, of that supply will remain in India.
China. USDA expects Chinese beginning stocks to climb to 111 MMT, up 14 percent over 2016/17. If realized, China will hold 43 percent of 2017/18 total global wheat beginning stocks. Chinese wheat production is also expected to rise in 2017/18 to 130 MMT, up 1.15 MMT from 2016/17. This puts total 2017/18 Chinese wheat supplies at 241 MMT, 7 percent greater than 2016/17. Yet Chinese wheat consumption is expected to decline 2 percent to 116 MMT due to an anticipated decrease in wheat feed usage. With supply up and consumption down, 2017/18 Chinese ending stocks are expected to grow to 127 MMT, up 14 percent from last year and a new record. If realized, Chinese ending stocks would account for 47 percent of all global wheat ending stocks for 2017/18.
While supplies in most importing countries are shrinking (India being the notable exception), global human consumption of wheat continues to grow. USDA expects global human wheat consumption to increase 2 percent in 2017/18, led by increases in regions that depend on imports for the entirety of their supply, including Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean. With 81 percent of global wheat consumption going to humans, understanding the quality and availability of the 2017/18 crop is important.
The 2017/18 USW Crop Quality report will be available online on Monday, Oct. 23. Contact your local USW representative for more information about the 2017/18 U.S. wheat quality, production and logistics.