The new 14.3 million tonnes estimate is still well below the five-year average and historical peaks.
However, if realized, it would represent a 2% increase over the 2021-22 trade total and a second straight year in which trade has risen following the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020.
According to the IGC, the increase is mainly due to “expectations for larger deliveries to Asia, notably Iraq and Afghanistan, the world’s largest importers of wheat flour, with full-year arrivals pegged at 2.3 million tonnes and 2.2 million tonnes, respectively.”
These levels would represent a 700,000-tonne combined increase for the two countries from the previous year.
However, the IGC reported that its projection came with a caveat.
“While the outlook for Afghanistan has been raised on larger reported deliveries by Kazakhstan, typically the main supplier, the number for Iraq has been scaled back amid an observed increasing shift to grain wheat purchases,” the IGC said.
Additionally, volatile prices are capping demand in sub-Saharan Africa, and deliveries to the region are projected at a multi-year low of 1.8 million tonnes, down from 2.3 million in 2021-22.
In South America, flour trade is also forecast to decline mainly due to reduced availabilities in drought-stricken Argentina, the traditional regional supplier. The IGC report also provides that imports in the region are likely to decline by 200,000 tonnes to 900,000.
The report also pegs Turkey to be the largest exporter globally, with 5.04 million tonnes of flour projected to be shipped in 2022-23. This is an increase of more than 600,000 tonnes over the previous year.
For the year 2023-24, the IGC’s initial projection for flour trade features a slight decrease to 14.2 million tonnes. This projection includes declines in purchases by Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, assuming larger local wheat availabilities in those countries and a contraction of supplies from Afghanistan.
“Some recovery in purchases is anticipated in South America and sub-Saharan Africa,” the IGC said. “However, the latter hinges on product prices and economic conditions across the region.”