French wheat exports to fall to lowest in more than a decade

France's wheat exports will fall to the lowest in more than a decade thanks to the dent to production from wet weather, with shipments outside the European Union to suffer a particularly sharp decline.

FranceAgriMer, in its first forecast for French soft wheat exports in 2016-17, pegged them at 11.91m tones - a drop of 43% year on year.

The decline, to the weakest volumes on data going back to 2006-07, reflected in particular weaker expectations for exports outside the EU, seen plunging by 63% year on year to 4.70m tonnes.

That would come in below the 4.91m tonnes recorded in 2007-08, a figure which also reflected a disappointing harvest.

However, this year's crop proved particularly weak - pegged by FranceAgriMer falling 30% to 28.47m tonnes thanks to a yield which, at 5.45 tonnes per hectare, was the lowest in 33 years.

Quality issues

Wednesday's forecasts imply an acceleration in the decline in exports as seen in July, the first month of 2016-17, when French shipments dropped 14% year on year to 1.08m tonnes.

Indeed, for July, shipments outside the EU fell by a modest 5% to 651,577 tonnes, supported by increased shipments to India and Senegal, which offset some of the drop in trade with France's typical North African customers.

Exports to Algeria dropped 32% to 290,450 tonnes.

In fact, many observers believe the poor quality, as well as quantity, of the French harvest means the country, the EU's top wheat producer and shipper, will struggle to meet the elevated specification hurdles required by buyers of milling grain, such as Algeria.

Initial quality analysis shows only 24% of French wheat coming in above the specific weight threshold of 76 kilogrammes per hectolitre, down from an average of 80%, although the crop scored better on some other measures, such as protein.

Nonetheless, the proportion of wheat deemed "premium" or "superior" in quality was, at 20%, well below the 45% average.

Durum, barley outlooks

FranceAgriMer forecast a drop too in exports of durum, the type of wheat used to make pasta, with shipments seen dropping 34% to 910,000 tonnes, by far the lowest on data going back to 2006-07.

Again, shipments outside the EU were forecast falling particularly strongly, by 70% to 150,000 tonnes.

The durum harvest was pegged at 1.44m tonnes, a decline of 21% year on year, reflecting in the main a 29% plunge to 4.10 tonnes per hectare in the average yield.

For barley, French exports in 2016-17 were pegged at a five-year low of 6.33m tonnes, a drop of 31% year on year.

The barley harvest was estimated down 20% at 10.08m tonnes, reflecting a 22% drop to 5.44 tonnes per hectare in the average yield.

Source: Agrimoney