World flour trade in 2017-18 is projected to reach a record high of 17 million tonnes (grain equivalent), according to data published Aug. 24 by the International Grains Council.
The new forecast is 200,000 tonnes larger than the IGC’s initial projection of 16.8 million tonnes issued in May as well as the council’s latest forecast for 2016-17 flour trade, also at 16.8 million tonnes.
While only modestly higher than the 2016-17 flour trade total, the 17 million tonnes projected for new crop sustains trade at levels well above historical averages. Flour trade was 16.612 million tonnes in 2015-16, but ranged between 12.63 million tonnes and 14.197 million tonnes in the five years ended 2014-15.
Flour export data as calculated by the IGC do not include export sales of durum semolina. Separately, the I.G.C. forecast semolina trade in 2017-18 at 420,000 tonnes, unchanged from the May projection but up 20,000 tonnes from each of the two previous crop years. Semolina exports would be the highest in 13 years, or since 428,000 tonnes in 2004-05.
Flour exports including semolina were projected at 17.42 million tonnes in 2017-18, up 220,000 tonnes, or 1%, from 17.2 million tonnes in 2016-17.
Significant adjustments from May were recorded by the IGC for four of the leading flour exporters. Projected exports for 2017-18 from Pakistan were raised to 700,000 tonnes, up from 500,000 tonnes as the initial May forecast. Outgo from Turkey, the world’s largest flour exporter, was projected at 5.45 million tonnes, down 300,000 tonnes from the May projection. United Arab Emirates exports were forecast at 540,000 tonnes, up 210,000 tonnes from May. An increase of 135,000 tonnes was recorded for “other” exporters.
Among importers, the largest adjustments from May were Uzbekistan, down 100,000 tonnes; Iraq, up 250,000 tonnes; and Angola, up 180,000 tonnes.
Measured against 2016-17, modest changes were expected for most exporting countries in 2017-18. Exports from Argentina were forecast at 1.14 million tonnes, up 137,000 tonnes, or 14%, from the year before. Flour exports from Russia were projected at 350,000 tonnes, up 93,000 tonnes, or 36%, from the year before.
Exports from Turkey in 2017-18 were forecast at 5.45 million tonnes, up 132,000 tonnes, or 2%, from 2016-17. Ranking second among exporters is Kazakhstan, projected at 3.2 million tonnes, up a negligible 9,000 tonnes from 2016-17. Turkey and Kazakhstan are projected to hold global flour export market shares of 32% and 19%, respectively, in 2017-18. The third greatest market share for an individual country is Argentina, at 6.7% in 2017-18.
Flour exports from the E.U. in 2017-18 were projected at 1.15 million tonnes, up 50,000 tonnes, or 5%, from the year before. U.S. exports in 2017-18 were forecast at 450,000 tonnes, down 16,000 tonnes, or 3%, from 2016-17.
Among importers, Uzbekistan was forecast at 1.1 million tonnes in 2017-18, up 100,000 tonnes, or 10%, from 1 million tonnes in 2016-17. Other year-to-year changes were modest.
The largest importer of flour in 2017-18 was projected to be Afghanistan, at 2.69 million tonnes, up 110,000 tonnes, or 3%, from the year before. Iraq was projected to rank second in flour imports in the new year, at 2.55 million tonnes, up 100,000 tonnes, or 4%. Afghanistan is projected to have a 16% flour export market share in 2016-17, versus 15% for Iraq.