Global Markets: Wheat – Ample Supplies Enable Australian Exports to Soar Again

    Global 2021/22 wheat production edges up only slightly from the prior year, but consumption is projected to rise even more. As a result of smaller crops for some key exporters, importers are increasingly relying upon Australia to meet their needs.

    After a multi-year drought, Australia wheat production rebounded in 2020/21, enabling exports to more than double compared to the previous year. Exports are expected to hit a near-record in 2020/21 and are forecast only slightly lower in 2021/22 as larger beginning stocks offset a smaller crop.

    Australia’s share of global exports is forecast to rise to 12 percent in 2021/22 compared to only 5 percent 2 years ago.

    Australia exports remain primarily focused on Asia given the preferences for its classes of wheat, in particular white wheat, and its close proximity. With back-to-back bumper crops, Australia has a larger overall quantity available at attractive prices.

    In 2020/21, Australia has successfully recaptured market share in Indonesia (its traditional largest destination and the second-largest global importer) as Black Sea and U.S. exports to that market contracted. In 2021/22, large production shortfalls in Canada are expected to keep the door open for further Australia exports to Indonesia.

    Vietnam has also become a major destination for Australian wheat, with its robust demand for both food and feed uses. Despite trade disputes with other commodities, China has continued to purchase high-quality wheat from Australia. Australia has also made remarkable gains in the Philippine market, which is primarily supplied by the United States.

    In the short term, Australia’s current competitive prices amid sufficient supplies will spur it to become the third-largest exporter. Australia is expected to continue to supply Asia based on its competitive freight rates.

    Nearby markets can purchase with shorter delivery times relative to other exporters. Many of its key markets are witnessing strong consumption growth but do not produce wheat. As long as there is sufficient production, Australia’s exports are likely to remain robust over the longer term.

    Iran Wheat Imports Rise with Tighter Supplies

    Iran 2021/22 wheat imports are raised sharply by 2.0 million tons this month to 4.5 million tons—the country’s largest import volume in 7 years. The projected surge in imports is a response to tightening domestic supplies. Combined carryin stocks and production have dipped to the lowest level in nearly a decade.

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    Iran wheat consumption has remained relatively stable as stock levels slid in recent years. Moreover, despite the government’s investment in improving wheat harvests, production is estimated to drop 10 percent from the previous marketing year due to drought conditions impacting yield.

    According to the Tehran Times, the Government of Iran (GOI), which procures wheat at an established price, purchased 4.4 million tons of wheat from farmers between March and August 2021—representing about 3 months of consumption and a third of the domestic crop.

    The procurement price recently jumped to 75,000 rials/kilogram (approximately $1.78) compared to 25,000 rials/kilogram last year, reflecting the country’s tightening wheat supplies and demand for additional wheat procurement.

    In order to satisfy domestic demand, GOI is therefore forced to import wheat from international sources. Iran’s state Government Trading Corporation (GTC) has been actively tendering for international wheat this year following years of minimal tender activity. While details of its purchases are undisclosed, GTC has bought at least 520,000 tons of wheat since the beginning of the marketing year (Apr-Mar).

    Iran wheat imports are primarily sourced from Russia. According to Iran customs data, imports from Russia were over 1.0 million tons in the 2020/21 marketing year. Trade with Russia is anticipated to expand this year with growing import demand.

    In June, the Iranian Ambassador to Russia stated that imports of Russian wheat could double this marketing year. Since April, shipments of Russian wheat to Iran have already reportedly reached 3.0 million tons.

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