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The International Grains Council on Feb. 23 projected 2012-13 world wheat ending stocks at an ample 208 million tonnes, down just 3 million tonnes from the forecast for the current year and compared with 196 million tonnes in 2010-11. The ending stocks forecast was included in the I.G.C.’s initial world wheat supply-and-demand estimates for the upcoming year.

The I.G.C. forecast world wheat production in 2012-13 at 680 million tonnes, down 2% from the record 695 million tonnes harvested in 2011-12.

The I.G.C. said, “Encouraged by rel-atively strong prices, farmers are expected to expand the global wheat area by 1.5% in 2012-13, to 224 million hectares, with significant increases in North America and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States, or the former Soviet Union). Recent very cold weather raised concerns about winter crop losses in Ukraine, Russia and northern Europe. Assuming in-creases in spring wheat plantings in North America and the CIS, and average yields (yields were record high in 2011-12), world production is forecast at 680 million tonnes, down 15 million tonnes from the 2011-12 record but well above the five-year average of 663 million tonnes.”

With projected beginning stocks of 211 million tonnes and production forecast at 680 million tonnes, world wheat supply in 2012-13 was forecast at 891 million tonnes, just 1 million tonnes shy of the record 892 million tonnes in 2011-12.

The I.G.C. forecast world wheat consumption in 2012-13 at a record 683 million tonnes, up 2 million tonnes from usage in the current year and compared with 656 million tonnes in 2010-11.

World food use of wheat in 2012-13 was forecast at a record 466 million tonnes, up 5 million tonnes from the projection for the current year. The I.G.C. said, “Direct food use is forecast to climb 1%, equal to the long-term trend, led by increases in developing countries in Asia and Africa.”

Global feed use of wheat in 2012-13 was forecast at 127 million tonnes, down 4 million tonnes from the projection for 2011-12. “After increasing to a near-record level in the current year, feed use is expected to be affected by larger supplies of maize and barley,” the I.G.C. said.

“Industrial use of wheat is projected to rise by 10%, to 21 million tonnes, mainly due to expanding use for fuel ethanol in the European Union,” the I.G.C. said.

World trade in wheat in 2012-13 was forecast at 134 million tonnes, down 3 million tonnes from the record 137 million tonnes projected for 2011-12 and compared with 126 million tonnes in 2010-11. The I.G.C. attributed the decrease in trade from the current year to expected reduced purchases for feed. At the same time, the I.G.C. commented, “Rising populations, especially in the developing countries, and limited scope to raise local production in many areas, will underpin further growth in milling wheat imports.”

The I.G.C. said export competition will remain strong in 2012-13.