Wheat Market: China cutting back purchases, Russia move involved in private wheat trade

China remains Canada’s largest wheat customer, even though purchases are down about 15 percent compared to the same point during the last crop year.

In the 2022/23 season, China accounted for three million tonnes or 26 percent of all Canadian wheat exports. At the current pace, the 2023-24 crop year will be have sales around 2.75 million tonnes.

Michael Wilton with Mercantile Consulting Venture in Winnipeg says the Chinese have been cutting wheat imports from a few countries including the United States.

“Chinese old crop imports were reduced by 10 million tonnes because of the recent cancellations that they’ve done, while new crop imports were estimated to be at the old crop number at 10 million tonnes as well, so this is important as mentioned before that China is Canada’s top wheat importer.” said Wilton.

Chinese wheat consumption is forecast to fall seven percent in the 2024-25 crops year. There are two main reasons. Based on cost, corn will replace wheat in many livestock feed rations, and the Chinese wheat crop is expected to avoid late-season rains that widely impacted the quality of last year’s crop. Canada shipped 1.8 million tonnes of wheat in February, with 20 percent going to China. Indonesia was next at 1.3 million tonnes, with the United States and Japan at one million tonnes a piece.

Meantime, Canada exported 297,200 tonnes of durum in February. Algeria was the largest buyer at 143,300 metric tonnes.Canadian durum exports between August and February were 2.4 million tonnes – down 36 percent from the previous year.

Other international wheat news sees India asking private traders to delay buying new crop wheat at least to the end of April.

“It does not want private traders to get in the way of what it hopes will be a 30-million tonne wheat procurement program. They also asked rail companies to not supply cars to local traders until the end of April. Despite low wheat stocks, the government has resisted calls to allow imported wheat, which tends to anger the rural voters.” Wilton said.

An important election is coming up in India on April 19th.

It also appears that the Russian government is getting more involved in the private wheat trade. Authorities withheld export certificates from two ships due to phytosanitary reasons.

“The Russian agricultural watchdog says that the tightening of phytosanitary controls is a response to an increase in complaints from importing countries about non-compliance of Russian grain quality. This could be the case, (but) we’re not so certain; it seems like the Russian government is moving towards additional government controls in grain exports – this situation will need to be watched.”

The comments came from this week’s market report for the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission.

(Neil Bilinger, CJWW)

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