EU durum wheat imports to recover from record lows

  • Market: Agriculture
  • 31/08/22

EU durum wheat imports so far in 2022-23 have fallen to a fresh low for the period but a weak domestic production paired with Canada's imminent durum harvest could lift receipts in the coming months.

The EU-27 imported just 30,700t of durum wheat between the start of the 2022-23 marketing year on 1 July and 28 August, according to provisional data from the EU commission. This was sharply down from 240,000t the same time a year ago and 576,800t in 2020-21. Durum receipts in July-August had previously fallen to a low of 56,000t in 2018-19.

The bloc's import mix has drastically changed so far this season, with India emerging as the largest durum supplier to the region at some 20,500t — already surpassing full-year volumes to date. At the same time, only 7,150t of durum was received from Canada — traditionally the largest supplier of crop to the EU — down from 150,000t the same time a year earlier. And no durum was imported from Australia — the EU's second-largest supplier of crop.

On the buyer side, the EU's largest durum importer, Italy, has yet to begin receipts of product, with Malta and Belgium receiving the bulk of international cargoes.

Durum imports have been off to a slow start, with stocks of crop hitting multi-year lows in Canada following a weak harvest in 2021-22. Canadian durum carryout stocks at the end of the country's 2021-22 marketing season on 31 July were estimated as low as 496,000t, with production last year totalling just 2.65mn t, against 6.57mn t a year earlier, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) data.

And Australia has already shipped much of its exportable surplus ahead of its 2022-23 harvest due at the end of this year. At the same time, weaker Canadian harvest has pushed importers such as Algeria, Japan and China to seek Australian durum, weighing on the availability of EU-bound supply.

But the EU's durum production is expected to hit multi-year lows this year as persisting dry and hot conditions weighed on yields in France and Italy. The bloc's output of crop is anticipated to total 7.12mn t in 2022-23, down from 7.74mn t a year earlier and its lowest in at least five years, according to the European Commission. At the same time, durum imports are forecast to rise to 2.5mn t from 1.3mn t last year.

Canada is well placed to supply much of the EU's rising durum requirements in 2022-23, with its harvest of crop expected to rise to 6.47mn t under Statistics Canada estimates. But the nation's grain harvest, including that of durum, has made slower progress this year due to milder and wetter weather in the spring and much of the summer, which could delay deliveries into Europe by several weeks.

Meanwhile, imports from Australia are set to resume, with a 50,000t Italy-bound durum cargo shipped from the Newcastle port on 24 August, line-up data show.


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