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Flour trade up, US farm profits, FAO Ebola impact, CBH port agreement

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

Global flour trade is up 6% from the 12,560,000 tons shipped in 2013-14 and 9% above the 12,180,000 tons exported in 2012-13
Global flour trade is up 6% from the 12,560,000 tons shipped in 2013-14 and 9% above the 12,180,000 tons exported in 2012-13
IGC: Indonesia leads flour imports, US farm profits to drop 13.8%, Ebola threatens harvest, CBH withdraws port agreement proposal on ‘conflicting messages’, and IM 9500 approved in three more markets.

Global flour trade up 6%: IGC

In its latest quarterly update on global flour exports for 2014-15, the International Grains Council (IGC) placed prospective flour trade in the current crop year at 13,270,000 tons in wheat equivalent, up 120,000 from the initial 2014-15 forecast. These numbers put the global flour trade up 6% from the 12,560,000 tons shipped in 2013-14 and 9% above the 12,180,000 tons exported in 2012-13.

Despite the gains, the flour trade still fell short of the record volume of 14,560,000 tons shipped in 2011-12.

Expanded imports by Indonesia mainly accounted for the increased volume, according to the IGC. Indeed, Indonesia was forecast to import 800,000 tons of flour in wheat equivalent in 2014-15, compared to 300,000 in the year before.

Brazil was forecast to import 700,000 tons of wheat equivalent for 2014-15, compared to 250,000 in the prior season. Total flour imports by sub-Sahara Africa in 2014-15 were forecast at 2,110,000 tons in wheat equivalent—led by Angola, with 670,000 tons.

Kazakhstan and Turkey together were forecast to account for 44% of world flour exports in the current year. In 2013-14, the two-country share peaked at 49%.A distant third in flour exporting was the EU, expected to ship 1,100,000 tons of wheat equivalent in 2014-15.

US farm profits to drop, but less than anticipated

Net US farm income for 2014 is expected to be $113.2 billion, a 13.8% drop from last year and the lowest since 2010, but still $17.4 billion above the income estimate released in February, according to the US Department of Agriculture. 

Last year’s income of $131.3 billion was the highest recorded on an inflation-adjusted basis in 40 years. Even taking the drop into account, this year’s income will still exceed the previous 10-year average by $25. The boost to the USDA’s income estimate is mainly due to record high prices for livestock, dairy and poultry products.

The livestock sector in particular will see a 15.3% increase in earnings this year, reaching $209.6 billion. The department amended its previous prediction that the value of crop production will decline to 2011 levels, raising its forecast for crop receipts by $11.5 billion to $200.9 billion. 

Ebola puts food trade, harvest at risk: FAO

Disruptions in food trade and marketing in the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak have made food increasingly scarce and expensive, while labor shortages threaten the pending rice and maize harvest, according to a special alert from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Quarantine zones and restrictions on people’s movement in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly virus have also seriously curtailed the movement and marketing of food. This has led to panic buying, food shortages and significant food price hikes on some commodities, especially in urban centers, according to the alert from FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).

The main harvest season for two key crops in the region—maize and rice—is just weeks away. Although adequate rains during the 2014 season previously pointed to favorable harvests in the main Ebola-affected countries, food production in the areas most affected by the outbreak (which also happen to be the most productive in Sierra Leone and Liberia) will likely be scaled back significantly.

This is compounded by labor shortages on farms due to movement restrictions and migration to other areas, which will seriously impact farm production and thus jeopardize the food security of large numbers of people, the alert said.

CBH pulls long-term port agreement proposal due to ‘conflicting messages’

Western Australian grain growers cooperative The CBH Group said this week that it has withdrawn its proposal to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for the planned allocation of port capacity through long-term agreements with exporters.

Despite marketers representing 93% of the market volume accepting capacity offered through the agreement process, ACCC received feedback from others who weren’t satisfied with the process because they wouldn’t receive all of their requested long-term agreement capacity. CBH made the decision based on current regulation in order to provide certainty to growers and exporters.

“We are getting some conflicting messages from the market. With this in mind we’ve had to reconsider the system to make sure that we have capacity allocated for the coming harvest,” ​CBH Operations General Manager David Capper said. “With harvest approaching quickly, we weren’t confident that this would be resolved in time to offer capacity for the 2014-15 harvest, so we have withdrawn the long-term agreement proposal at this stage.”

Grain analyzer approved in France, Czech Republic and Serbia

The Inframatic 9500 NIR Grain Analyzer from Perten Instruments has been officially approved for moisture determination in France, Czech Republic and Serbia.

The IM 9500 was evaluated by official agencies in the respective countries and met or exceeded the requirements for official moisture determinations in various grain types. With these new approvals the IM 9500 can be used for commercial settlements in grain trading.

“During the past year we worked intensely with the official evaluation procedures in several key markets were certification is needed. We are pleased to have accomplished this in a relatively short time, made possible thanks to the excellent performance of the IM 9500,” ​said Henrik Andrén, business area manager for grain at Perten.

To date, the IM 9500 is also certified for the following markets and parameters: Australia (protein), Austria (moisture), Germany (moisture) and the US (moisture, protein, oil and test weight). 

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