Global Ag News for Sept 8.23
Food Prices Resume Decline Despite Lingering Supply Threats
- United Nations’ food-price index has fallen 8% this year
- Gauge is at a two-year low, but food security risks remain
Global food prices resumed declines to the lowest in more than two years amid ample supplies of cooking oils and dairy, even as worries persist over flows of key staples from some regions.
An index of food-commodity costs fell 2.1% last month on subdued demand and good output of vegetable oils and milk, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said Friday. The gauge has slid 24% since hitting a record in March 2022, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted grain exports.
Grains have been a big driver of the retreat since last year. A second bumper Russian wheat harvest has helped temper prices, and Ukrainian exports continue to flow despite the end of a Black Sea grain deal and repeated attacks on its ports. The US is also forecast to collect a near-record corn crop, although extreme heat at the end of the growing season risks curbing yields.
There are also other supply threats. India has slapped export restrictions on rice, a vital part of the diets of billions around the world, while extreme weather is affecting a variety of crops. Food inflation also remains high in many countries on the back of high energy and labor costs.
Dairy, vegetable oil and meat prices all dropped at least 3% last month, the FAO said. Its gauge of grain costs also declined, pressured by a record Brazilian corn harvest. Sugar prices rose.
FUTURES & WEATHER
Wheat prices overnight are down 2 1/2 in SRW, down 3 in HRW, down 1 1/4 in HRS; Corn is down 3/4; Soybeans down 3; Soymeal down $1.10; Soyoil down 0.18.
For the week so far wheat prices are up 1 3/4 in SRW, up 11 1/4 in HRW, up 13 3/4 in HRS; Corn is up 4; Soybeans down 12 3/4; Soymeal down $5.40; Soyoil down 2.69.
For the month to date wheat prices are down 4 in SRW, up 6 3/4 in HRW, up 6 3/4 in HRS; Corn is up 6 1/4; Soybeans down 11; Soymeal down $9.90; Soyoil down 1.91.
Year-To-Date nearby futures are down 27.8% in SRW, down 17.1% in HRW, down 20.3% in HRS; Corn is down 30.6%; Soybeans down 11.5%; Soymeal down 15.5%; Soyoil down 0.3%.
Chinese Ag futures (NOV 23) Soybeans down 53 yuan; Soymeal down 54; Soyoil down 118; Palm oil down 104; Corn down 25 — Malaysian Palm is down 7. Malaysian palm oil prices overnight were down 7 ringgit (-0.18%) at 3825.
There were changes in registrations (75 HRW Wheat). Registration total: 3,005 SRW Wheat contracts; 741 Oats; 0 Corn; 0 Soybeans; 67 Soyoil; 85 Soymeal; 387 HRW Wheat.
Preliminary changes in futures Open Interest as of September 7 were: SRW Wheat up 1,250 contracts, HRW Wheat down 883, Corn up 8,460, Soybeans up 13,144, Soymeal down 530, Soyoil up 7,676.
Northern Plains: Variable, though mild, temperatures and some sporadic showers are expected in the Northern Plains through the weekend, which may or may not be helpful for maturing corn and soybeans. Temperatures will increase later next week.
Central/Southern Plains: A front will waffle in the Central Plains over the next couple of days, being pushed south Sunday through Tuesday. Scattered showers are expected, especially this weekend into next week as the front moves through, and could be widespread and moderate to heavy. Temperatures south of the front will continue to be hot while a burst of milder air follows next week. Some rain may be significant for filling corn and soybeans that can still take advantage, though there is less of a crop that can.
Midwest: A system continues to bring isolated showers to the eastern Midwest on Thursday along with cooler air for the region. Another front will move through this weekend into early next week, bringing another round of mild temperatures and potential for rain. With crops maturing, the percentage that can take advantage of some of these late rains is dwindling.
Australia: A system brought some showers to southeastern Australia which continues through the end of the week, but many areas remain drier than optimal and temperatures have been above-normal more often than not in recent months. El Nino is favoring the hotter and drier conditions in eastern Australia, which figures to have poorer production as wheat and canola continue to go through reproductive stages in September.
Brazil: A front will move through over the next few days with potential for more heavy rain for southern Brazil. Another front will move through southern areas with more rain next week. Recent heavy rain has caused flooding damage, which may outweigh the benefits of heavy rain prior to planting. Improved soil moisture over central areas is favorable for planting once the daily wet season showers develop.
Argentina: A front and system continue to move through Argentina Thursday, which has brought better rainfall to parts of the country. The pattern remains active with another system moving through early next week with more rain. Conditions are becoming much more favorable as planting season approaches.
The player sheet for Sept. 7 had funds: net sellers of 4,000 contracts of SRW wheat, buyers of 500 corn, sellers of 7,500 soybeans, sellers of 1,500 soymeal, and sellers of 3,500 soyoil.
- WHEAT PURCHASE: A group of South Korean flour mills bought an estimated 88,260 metric tons of milling wheat to be sourced from the United States in an international tender on Thursday
- FEED WHEAT PURCHASE: South Korea’s Feed Leaders Committee (FLC) purchased around 57,000 tonnes of animal feed wheat to be sourced from any optional worldwide origins.
- CORN PURCHASE: Iranian state-owned animal feed importer SLAL is believed to have purchased animal feed corn sourced from Brazil in an international tender which closed on Tuesday.
- WHEAT TENDER FAIL: A group of South Korean flour mills rejected all offers and made no purchase of around 45,000 metric tons of milling wheat to be sourced from Canada sought in an international tender on Thursday
- WHEAT TENDER: A Syrian state grains agency issued an international tender to purchase and import 200,000 metric tons of soft milling wheat.
- RICE TENDER: South Korea’s state-backed Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp issued an international tender to purchase an estimated 21,700 metric tonnes of rice all to be sourced from China.
- FEED WHEAT AND BARLEY TENDER: Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) said it will seek 60,000 metric tons of feed wheat and 20,000 tons of feed barley to be loaded by Dec. 31 and arrive in Japan by Feb. 29 via an auction to be held on Sept. 13.
GRAIN EXPORT SURVEY: Corn, Soy, Wheat Sales Before USDA Report
Estimate ranges are based on a Bloomberg survey of four analysts; the USDA is scheduled to release its export sales report on Friday for week ending Aug. 31.
- Corn est. range 300k – 1,400k tons, with avg of 738k
- Soybean est. range 1,300k – 2,500k tons, with avg of 1,653k
Argentine Corn Production Estimate Sept. 7: Exchange
The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange releases weekly report on website.
- 2022-23 corn production est. maintained at 34m tons
- Harvest advances to 100% complete
Argentina’s 2023-24 Soy Crop Seen Jumping 138% to 50m Tons
Soybean acreage is set to expand 5.6% in the 2023-2024 season compared to the previous one, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said in a report published ahead of the planting season.
- Combined with better weather after a brutal drought in 2022-23, farmers can collect 50m metric tons during the harvest next year
- Corn planting also seen expanding 2.8%
- Corn production can reach 55m tons, 62% more than last season
- Wheat crop that’s harvested at the end of this year seen at 16.5m tons, up 35% y/y
- NOTE: The USDA predicts Argentina’s 2023-24 soy crop at 48m tons and the corn crop at 54m
Zelenskiy, Sunak Discussed Ukraine’s Black Sea Grain Export
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak focused their discussion on Ukraine’s Black Sea grain export during their conversation on Thursday, Zelenzkiy says in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
- Ukraine has successfully used an alternative route and needs partners to help strengthen air defense in Odesa region
- NOTE: Areas of Ukraine’s Danube ports in Odesa region have repeatedly suffered Russian missile and air strikes in past weeks
Ukraine Starts Grain Exports Via Croatia Ports: Economy Minister
Ukrainian grain is already being exported via Croatian ports, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said on the cabinet’s website.
- Svyrydenko didn’t elaborate on volumes of grain being shipped via Croatia, described it as “niche direction”
FAO-AMIS Cuts 2023-24 World Wheat Production Forecast
World wheat production in the 2023-24 season is seen at 781.1m tons, according to an Agricultural Market Information System report.
- That’s down from a July estimate of 783.3m due to “downgraded prospects in Canada and the EU owing to dry conditions, and in China due to heavy rains”
- Wheat stockpiles in 2023-24 estimated at 315.2m tons, up from July estimate of 313.9m tons
- Corn production forecast at 1,214.9m tons, up from a July estimate of 1,211.3m tons
- 2023-24 corn stocks seen at 304.5m tons, compared with July estimate of 300.9m tons
- Soy production estimated at 400m tons, down from 403m tons
- Stocks seen at 52.9m tons, down from 53m tons
Ukraine Harvest Runs Ahead of Last Year: Agriculture Ministry
Ukrainian farmers harvested a total of 33.7m tons of grains and oilseeds as of the first week of September, Agriculture Ministry says on website.
- That included 29.3m tons of grains: ministry
- Breakdown of harvest compared with previous year includes:
- 22.15m tons of wheat vs 19.2m tons as of Sept. 9 last year
- 5.8m tons of barley vs 5.5m tons
- 2,000 tons of corn vs 18,400 tons
- 4m tons of rapeseed vs 3.1m tons; crop was harvested from 98% of planted areas
- 154,100 tons of soybean vs 70,900 tons
- 199,300 tons of sunflower seed vs 392,000 tons
- Sugar beet harvest is 116,000 tons so far compared with 42,900 tons as of Sept. 9 last year
Ethiopia’s Drive to Boost Wheat Output Yields Surplus for Export
- Agriculture minister sees production rising by 27% this season
- Import substitution saved nation $1 billion foreign exchange
A government drive to boost Ethiopian wheat production is expected to result in a 27% increase in output this season, enabling the Horn of Africa nation to export the grain.
Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government include a planting campaign to wean the country off imports. The efforts have borne fruit and Ethiopia didn’t import wheat in the fiscal year ended July, helping save $1 billion in foreign exchange, according to Agriculture Minister Girma Amente.
The ministry projects a wheat harvest of 19.5 million tons during the current season to June next year, compared with 15.4 million tons in the previous period, he said. Total consumption was 9.7 million tons in the same year, according to the minister.
Ethiopia plans to expand the area under wheat production by 37% to 5.6 million hectares in the season that began in June, Girma said in an interview at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Irrigated wheat will increase by 54% to 2 million hectares, while rain-fed production will grow 29% to 3.6 million hectares.
“Our focus in the medium term is to increase production and productivity to sustain meeting our domestic demands and increase our exports,” he said. “There are requests from our neighboring countries to buy wheat from Ethiopia. We will work on this demand in the coming season and coming years.”
Ethiopia is pushing domestic production of previously imported food to shield it from the vagaries of the global supply chain, the impact of adverse weather and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The country has fully replaced malt barley imports with domestic production and now also meets 50% of local rice demand, Amente said. “We are scaling up the experience we gained from wheat to other crops,” he said.
US Corn and Soybean Crops Increase Drought Exposure: Sept. 5
The following table shows the percent of US agricultural production within an area that experienced drought for the week ending Sept. 5, according to the USDA’s weekly drought report.
- Corn crops experiencing moderate to intense drought rose by 4 percentage points from the previous week to 49%
- Drought exposure at this time last year was 29%
- Soybean crops in drought rose by 3 points, reaching 43%
- The biggest increase among major crops was cotton, which rose to 44% vs 37%
US Miss. River Grain Shipments Fall, Barge Rates Increase: USDA
Barge shipments down the Mississippi river declined to 122k tons in the week ending Sept. 2 from 202k tons the previous week, according to the USDA’s weekly grain transportation report.
- Barge shipments of corn fell 38% from the previous week
- Soybean shipments down 49% w/w
- St. Louis barge rates were $25.45 per short ton, an increase of $2.12 from the previous week
Biobest buys Brazil farm solutions provider Biotrop in $570 mln deal
Belgian sustainable crop management provider Biobest Group has reached a deal to acquire Brazilian peer Biotrop as it looks to expand its footprint in the South American agricultural powerhouse, the companies announced on Thursday.
The firms said in a joint statement Biobest has signed a binding agreement to buy an 85% stake of Biotrop, which is currently controlled by private equity firm Aqua Capital, at a valuation of 532 million euros ($569.45 million).
The remaining 15% stake will be bought by Biobest after a three-year transition period, the companies said, adding they expect the deal to be completed by the end of this year.
Biotrop, which provides farmers with biological control alternatives and is also backed by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, expects to reach 679 million reais ($136.44 million) in revenue this year, it said.
“This announcement is a milestone for Biobest, based on a successful merger and acquisition strategy and sustainable organic growth,” Biobest Chief Executive Jean-Marc Vandoorne said.
“With an annual growth rate of 43% and driven by a regulatory environment that favors the needs for products of this nature, Brazil outperforms the growth of any other major market in the world,” he added.
The South American country is a top global provider of products such as sugar, coffee, soybeans, corn and orange juice.
Biobest said it will fund the acquisition through a capital increase to be subscribed by existing shareholders, such as Sofina, and new stockholders including Tikehau Capital, M&G Investments, Unigrains and Sofiproteol.
The Belgian firm was advised by Morgan Stanley, Berenberg, Stocche Forbes/Jones Day, E&Y and McKinsey in the transaction. Investment bank Itau BBA and law firm Demarest, meanwhile, advised Aqua Capital.
India Cumulative Monsoon Rainfall 11% Below Normal as of Sept. 7
India has so far received 665.5 millimeters of rains during the current monsoon season, which runs from June through September, compared with a normal of 748.3 millimeters, according to data published by the India Meteorological Department on Sept. 7.
- The eastern and northeastern region got 19% below normal rains
- Rainfall in the northwestern region was at 2% below normal
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