Belgium Emerges as the Largest EU Buyer of French Barley  


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France, the EU’s biggest Wheat producer, was expected to ship 10.6 million tons outside the bloc in 2022/23 early this year, against 10.3 million tons forecast in December 2022 and 21% above previous season’s level. “What is clear is that demand is still significant from the Maghreb, particularly Morocco,” Paul Le Bideau, deputy head of FranceAgriMer’s Grains unit, said.

He added that the competitiveness of French Wheat in North African markets had been helped by rising insurance costs for shipping supplies from Russia, the world’s biggest Wheat exporter. Market participants consulted by FranceAgriMer had estimates for French non-EU soft Wheat exports ranging between 10 and 11 million tonnes, he said, adding there was still much uncertainty over the impact of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

A busy Wheat export program in France has continued in January, including further loadings for Morocco and Algeria. FranceAgriMer trimmed its outlook for soft Wheat exports within the EU to 6.64 million tons from 6.73 million.

As per AgFlow data, France shipped 2.1 million tons of Wheat in Jan-June, 2023. In June, key markets were Morocco (88,000 tons), Spain (81,335 tons), Senegal (34,000 tons), Colombia (30,000 tons), and Mauritania (30,000 tons). The office reduced its projection of French soft Wheat stocks at the end of the 2022/23 season on June 30 to 2.33 million tons from 2.55 million projected in December 2022.

According to the pre-harvest estimate published by Intercéreales and Arvalis (technical plant institute), the national yield of soft Wheat, a bread cereal, “would reach 75 quintals per hectare in 2023, an increase of 4.5% compared to 2022 and 5% compared to the average of the last ten years”. This is explained by “good sowing conditions in the fall and regular rains in early spring favoring early plant growth.” According to these organizations, “the 2023 campaign presents more homogeneous yields on the national territory than in 2022.

However, the singular climatic year, in particular, characterized by alternating hot periods and excess rain, can locally lead to a ceiling in yields”. “In certain departments of the southern half, the wet winter and sometimes very intense droughts from the end of February to the end of April” have undermined the potential, underlined François Laurent, research and development director of Arvalis.

Regarding Grain quality, “the average protein content in French soft Wheat would reach 11.4% in 2023, a value equivalent to 2022 and the ten-year average corresponding to the objectives of the French cereal sector”.

For Corn, forecast stocks at the end of 2022/23 were raised slightly, to 2.30 million tons from 2.23 million, as a reduced outlook for intra-EU exports and upward revisions to harvest supply and imports outweighed an increased forecast for feed use.

The office raised its 2022/23 ending stocks outlook for Barley to 1.97 million tons from 1.85 million previously. This reflected reduced expectations for feed use and exports due to uncompetitive Barley prices, though the cereal was capturing some new demand from China, Le Bideau said.

Belgium Emerges as the Largest EU Buyer of French Barley

Barley Trade in France

In 2021, France exported Barley worth $1.67 billion, making it the 2nd largest exporter of Barley in the world. In the same year, Barley was France’s 73rd most shipped product. The leading destination of Barley exports from France is China ($901 million), Belgium ($336 million), the Netherlands ($124 million), Germany ($79.8 million), and Mexico ($59.8 million).

In 2021, France imported Barley worth $35.2 million, becoming the world’s 38th largest importer of Barley. In the same year, Barley was France’s 870th most imported product. France imports Barley primarily from: Spain ($9.31 million), Denmark ($6.03 million), Lithuania ($5.96 million), Sweden ($4.93 million), and Belgium ($3.11 million).

Other sources: REUTERS

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