EU lifts corn import forecast for 2017-18 to record high
The strong start to 2017-18 for European Union corn imports looks set to continue, with officials lifting their forecast for the bloc’s buy-ins to a record high, thanks to weakened prospects for domestic output.
The European Commission hiked by more than 3.0m tonnes, to 15.3m tonnes, its forecast for EU corn imports this season, on a July-to-June basis.
The upgrade would take imports well above the 12.9m tonnes imported last season – lifting them indeed above the 15.09m tonnes recorded in 2007-08, the current record high.
The revision also came the day after the International Grains Council lifted its estimate for the bloc’s corn imports this season by 1.0m tonnes to 15.0m tonnes.
The rejigs follow a strong start to the season for EU corn imports which, at 978,000 tonnes as of July 25, are already running some 33% ahead of the pace of buy-ins last season.
The IGC flagged the boost to EU needs from “smaller domestic corn and barley outturns, competitive prices and robust demand from swine and cattle industries”.
The council cut its forecast for the EU corn crop by 700,000 tonnes to 59.5m tonnes, citing “minor downgrades to estimates for France, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria, where weather has been overly dry at times”.
The European Commission also reduced its estimate for “usable” EU corn production, by 3.61m tonnes from last month to 58.45m tonnes.
The downgrade made the commission one of the more downbeat forecasters, with the US Department of Agriculture pegging the harvest at 61.6m tonnes, and industry group Coceral putting it at 60.0m tonnes.
Strategie Grains two weeks ago cut its forecast the EU corn harvest by 1.2m tonnes to 58.8m tonnes.
While the commission did not give reasons for its downgrade, the revision follows a caution earlier this week from its Mars agricultural meteorology unit cautioning over “heatwaves” that had “particularly impacted summer crops in southern Europe”.
Mars cut its forecasts for yields in countries including Austria, Hungary and Romania, the EU’s second-ranked corn producing country after France.
Wheat, barley estimates
The commission also on Friday made a modest trim to its forecast for the EU soft wheat crop, the world’s biggest, this year, by 290,000 tonnes to 138.57m tonnes.
The forecast for EU soft wheat exports in 2017-18 was reduced by 500,000 tonnes to 26.0m tonnes, reflecting too a reduced estimate for inventories of the grain heading into the season.
However, for barley, the production estimate was upgraded by nearly 500,000 tonnes to 57.54m tonnes, with the export figure held at 7.0m tonnes.