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Weekly Overview: Early Signs of Easing in Global Feed Grains?

13 December 2012

ANALYSIS - There are some signs of an easing in the supply of wheat, maize and soybeans in the coming months in the latest USDA report. Much depends on the success of harvests in South America and the prospects of tumbling feed prices are slim but these are at least potentially positive developments for the poultry industry. Poultry meat and egg imports from the Ukraine to the EU will be permitted in future, subject to some "technical issues". A new welfare code for laying hens in New Zealand includes a ban on battery cages from 2022.

The latest USDA report has increased the forecast of global wheat stocks by 2.8 million tonnes and they are now set to be 176.95 million tonnes at the end of the 2012/13 season, reports HGCA.

The estimate is above many analysts' expectations.

The increase to stocks follows higher production and lower demand forecasts. Production was increased by 3.7 million tonnes to 655 million tonnes, mainly on the back of higher Chinese production, with increases also for Australia and Canada. These more than offset smaller EU and Brazilian crops. Total world use is forecast down by 1.2 million tonnes to 674 million tonnes (698 million tonnes in 2011/12). The latest estimate of ending stocks equates to 26.3 per cent of annual consumption, a sizeable increase from 25.8 per cent last month.

An AHDB/HGCA Analyst commented: "The latest report from the USDA now forecasts the Argentine maize crop at 27.5 million tonnes, a reduction of 0.5 million tonnes compared to November's report due to a smaller planted area.

"While this would still be an increase of 6.5 million tonnes from last season's drought-affected crop, the world is looking to South America to provide a boost to tight global feed grain supplies."

The Brazilian maize crop estimate was left unchanged also from November at 70 million tonnes. South American soybean production numbers were left mainly unchanged including Brazil at 81 million tonnes.

Globally, a larger Chinese crop was the main reason for a 9.4-million tonne increase to global maize production to 849 million tonnes - now 33 million tonnes below 2011/12 production. However, an increase of consumption - again, mainly in China - leaves global end-season stock forecasts largely unchanged at 118 million tonnes. Chinese import demand was also unchanged at two million tonnes.

Global soybean production was slightly higher - up 0.12 million tonnes from November to 268 million tonnes. Canadian production was revised upwards, offsetting a downgrade in EU-27 and Paraguayan production; the Brazilian and Argentine crop forecasts were unchanged from last month. Global demand for soybeans was also largely unchanged at 261 million tonnes, with ending stocks slightly (0.1 million tonnes) lower at 59.9 million tonnes, but still up from last year's 56.0 million tonnes.

In the US, soybean stocks continued to tighten following a small increase to the domestic crush figure. End-season stocks are now forecast at 3.5 million tonnes, equivalent to just 4.3 per cent of annual domestic and export demand, down from 4.6 per cent in November and 5.4 per cent in 2011/12.

Also in the news in the last week, top poultry meat and egg companies in Ukraine are expecting a good year in 2013 as a new market of more than 500 million people has just opened for them. The European Commission has formally allowed imports of Ukrainian poultry, eggs and other products to the European Union.

It is unclear when all the formal procedures within the EU will be concluded and Ukraine's companies will be able to start exporting to Europe. Several amendments still need to be made to EU health regulations, and then the new legislation will have to be translated into official EU languages.

Conventional battery cages are to be phased out for laying hens in New Zealand by 2022, under a new code of welfare issued by the Minister for Primary Industries.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) developed the new code after reviewing the 2005 code and considering scientific evidence and submissions from the public. The new code contains minimum standards and best practices that aim to encourage the highest standards of animal husbandry, care and handling; it covers the full range of hen husbandry topics.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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