Some recovery seen in wheat stocks

by Josh Sosland
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TOKYO — In biannual sessions conducted in Tokyo, the International Grains Council offered a preliminary estimate that 2008-09 world wheat production could total 645 million tonnes, "which could result in some recovery in world stocks at the end of 2008-09."

Production in 2007-08 was estimated at 603 million tonnes. The council said global output for 2007-08 is poised to be the highest ever but consumption is outstripping the increased production. The largest part of the increase in demand was attributed to biofuels, with total grain use of 100 million tonnes, largely corn for ethanol, up 44%. Wheat supplies have been particularly tight due to poor 2007 crops in several countries, including Australia, with prices at record highs.

"Some exporters had taken measures to protect domestic consumers, including new or additional export taxes," the I.G.C. said. "Recent surges in ocean freight rates had added further to the burdens of importers, especially developing countries, although the expected decline in wheat trade in 2007-08 would be largely due to improved crops in some leading importers rather than the high import prices. Growers were expected to respond to the much higher prices and expand the global wheat area by around 4% for the 2008-09 crop."

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