FAO Sees Less Wheat, More Coarse Grains

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World wheat output could fall by five per cent in 2010 after two bumper crop years, but coarse grain output may rise, the United Nations’ food agency said.

Wheat-planted areas in the United States dropped to the lowest level in almost a century because of bad weather and falling prices, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its first 2010 crop outlook.

FAO senior economist Liliana Balbi told Reuters Insider television wheat production could fall by five per cent in 2010, adding she did not expect a dramatic decline because crop prospects were very favourable in the European Union and China.

“If you assume in these two… production is going to remain at the good level of last year but on the other hand you have lower production in U. S. and maybe lower production in some Asian countries so you will have a decline… in the order of five per cent,” she said.

The International Grains Council last month forecast world wheat production in 2010 would fall about three per cent to 653 million tonnes but the crop would still be the third highest on record.


The FAO said a sharp recovery in 2010 maize crops in Argentina should power maize output in South America and could push up overall coarse grains output this year.

Global rice output should recover in 2010 after a fall in 2009, assuming a return to a normal monsoon pattern.

The food agency said it had raised its estimates of 2009 wheat, coarse grains and rice output after better-than-expected crops in some major producing countries.

In 2009, wheat output at 683 million tonnes – raised from a previous estimate of about 678 million tonnes – was flat on 2008, while coarse grains at 1.112 billion tonnes were 2.4 per cent below 2008 crops, the agency said.

FAO said it expected world cereal stocks by the close of seasons ending in 2010 to climb three per cent to eight-year highs at 523 million tonnes.

The ratio of world cereal stocks to utilization, a leading indicator for global food security, is expected to improve further from its already relatively high level of 22.8 per cent in 2008-09 to 23.4 per cent in 2009-10, FAO said.

World wheat stocks are expected to rise to a seven-year high of about 194 million tonnes, up 10 per cent, from their already-high opening level, boosted by better-than-expected 2009 crops.

But world stocks of coarse grains in 2010 are seen at 206 million tonnes, slightly below their high opening levels, due to a drop in 2009 world output and increased demand.

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