GLOBAL -The International Grains Council (IGC) forecast declining global wheat flour trade in the marketing year 2022-23 to reach 13.8 million tonnes (wheat equivalent) as sales in sub-Saharan Africa dry up.

According to the IGC, the 2022-23 marketing year is similar to 2020-21 when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak and operation of mills at one of its lowest.

Last year, IGC forecasted global flour trade at 14M tonnes but the year realized 14.1M tonnes, a 100,000 tonnes more than the forecast.

However, if the current forecast is realized, it would be 300,000 tonnes lower than the previous year and 200,000 below the IGC’s estimate in October.

The last time a lower global flour trade total was recorded was 2013-14 when 13.2 million tonnes were traded followed by the pandemic era when 13.8 million tonnes were traded.

The lagging trend in wheat flour trading has been linked to the situation in sub-Saharan Africa where the demand for wheat-based products is gradually diminishing following difficult economic conditions.

“Amid difficult economic conditions and with elevated prices for wheat-based products seen hampering consumer demand, updated trade statistics showed slower-than-anticipated deliveries to (sub-Saharan Africa) through October-November last year, with downward adjustments incorporated for Angola, Benin, and Ghana,” the IGC said

Apart from the consumption pattern in sub-Saharan Africa, climatic challenges have affected the giant producers and exporters immeasurably.

In South America, the region’s largest flour supplier, Argentina, has been plagued by a severe drought that has damaged the wheat crop and affected flour exports.

 The IGC forecasts Argentina’s exports in 2022-23 to decline to 400,000 tonnes, down from 741,000 last year.

On another hand, the 2022-23 imports by Bolivia and Brazil are predicted to fall short of last year’s levels, even though Brazil has been complementing Argentine supplies with purchases from Paraguay and Uruguay.

Iraq is forecast to be the largest flour importer in 2022-23 at 2.6 million tonnes, up from 2.1 million a year ago. However, the IGC noted that the volume is “likely to fall short of historical highs, given the government’s reported efforts to facilitate local milling operations.”

Afghanistan is expected to be the second largest flour importer this year, with 1.8 million tonnes, up from 1.7 million in 2021-22.

Turkey on the other hand is projected to be the world’s largest flour exporter with this year’s total pegged at 4.9 million tonnes, up slightly from the October forecast and up more than 500,000 tonnes from last year.

Second-ranked exporter Kazakhstan is forecast to ship 2.4 million tonnes in 2022-23, unchanged from the October estimate and up 90,000 tonnes from the previous year

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