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Global Feed Markets: July - August 2011

Global Feed Markets: July - August 2011

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Improving supply outlooks, a retreat of speculative support and worries about the global economy recently drove wheat prices to their cheapest level for a year. Maize also fell in a switchback ride from all time record peaks to seven-month lows in one remarkable fortnight.
Improving supply outlooks, a retreat of speculative support and worries about the global economy recently drove wheat prices to their cheapest level for a year. Maize also fell in a switchback ride from all time record peaks to seven-month lows in one remarkable fortnight.

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Digital Re-print - July | August 2011

Global Feed Markets: July - August 2011

Grain & Feed Milling Technology is published six times a year by Perendale Publishers Ltd of the United Kingdom. All data is published in good faith, based on information received, and while every care is taken to prevent inaccuracies, the publishers accept no liability for any errors or omissions or for the consequences of action taken on the basis of information published. ©Copyright 2010 Perendale Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owner. Printed by Perendale Publishers Ltd. ISSN: 1466-3872

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GLOBAL
GRAIN & FEED MARKETS
Every issue GFMT’s market analyst John Buckley reviews world trading conditions which are impacting the full range of commodities used in food and feed production. His observations will influence your decision-making.
Amid the rebound in Russian/other CIS supplies, the world market should easily cope with less EU exports and Europe itself will also avail itself of a lot of this cheap Black Sea wheat to keep upward pressure off its own feedgrain prices (Black Sea milling wheat was offered for export $25/35 cheaper than French in early July).

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mproving supply outlooks, a retreat of speculative support and worries about the global economy recently drove wheat prices to their cheapest level for a year. Maize also fell in a switchback ride from all time record peaks to seven-month lows in one remarkable fortnight. Does this mean the bull market is over and that consumers can look forward to further declines in grain and feed input costs? The answer is a mixed one – encouraging for some market sectors but less certain for others – and with plenty of caveats yet – both from weather and the demand side of the market. Wheat has long been – and remains - a tale of two markets divided by quality. The worldwide shortage of high grade breadwheats this past year was real enough and merited a significant price response. The jury is still out on this year’s crops after wet weather delayed and downsized planting of spring wheat in North America but a repeat of last year’s pre-harvest weather disasters in so many countries for a second year running seems unlikely. For ordinary bread/feed wheats the supply situation - even with the loss of 30m tonnes to drought in the former Soviet Union last year - never really justified ordinary milling/feed wheat costs returning to the highs of 2008 as they did earlier this year. Markets are increasingly recognizing this anomaly and coming, as we forecast last year, about

halfway back to where they were before last year’s supply upsets. The fall in these ‘run of the mill’ bread/feed wheats might have been even steeper if not for record high maize prices and short barley crops, raising the intrinsic value of all grains as feed. Even after the recent price drop, coarse grains are still relatively expensive (maize is at highly unusual premiums to wheat on the US market). This may continue to prop up wheat to some extent, at least until we know more about the coming maize crop in the USA, the world’s largest supplier. The key development for wheat in July has been the return of the Russians, ending their export ban and already aggressively selling a barely harvested – but clearly recovered - crop on the world market, undercutting all rivals as they attempt to restore their role as reliable top suppliers. Better weather across the region means Ukraine and Kazakhstan also have more wheat to sell abroad and Ukraine has also relaxed export restrictions. Big crops are also coming onto the world market from past net importers, Pakistan and India. Against that, Western Europe has suffered a muted version of the droughts and heatwaves we saw in the Black Sea region last year and currently expects to see only a marginal gain rather than the originally hoped significant recovery in wheat production. Stocks have also been whittled down to supplement last year’s disappointing harvest as exporters cashed in on Russia’s absence as a competitor. Still, this year could have been far worse for the EU which at one time, was looking at possible 20% to 30% crop losses. Also, the EU’s principal source of high grade milling wheat, Germany, will hopefully get much better quality than it saw from last year’s rain-spoiled harvest - assuming recent untimely rain doesn’t set in the for too long. Given the lack of rain over much of its hard red winter wheat belt

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42 | July - august 2011

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July - august 2011 | 43

since planting time, the US also seems to be emerging with a better than expected crop of this principal export grade, well down in terms of yields and tonnage but with some good quality. However, both the US and Canada have had major problems with wet

weather holding up and downsizing their spring wheat plantings from earlier targets. With crops still developing late in both countries, a needed rebound in quality milling wheat supplies from this region may already have been compromised – although it should not be written off just yet. If Canada gets enough sunshine from now through to harvest’s end, it may yet end up with a higher proportion of milling quality wheat from a smaller than expected total crop, rather than the excess supplies of feed wheat that resulted from last year’s wet weather. If the North American spring wheat crops do fall short, the onus will fall more heavily on the other big quality supplier Australia. Planting here has so far been going reasonably well. Some dryness issues linger in the West but if the eastern states avoid last year’s highly unusual harvest washouts, we could see a complete reversal of that result (when Australia saw its worst milling crop for many years).

Feed consumers praying for an end to the past season’s endless litany of crop weather problems must have wrung their hands during May and much of June when incessant rains threatened to stop US farmers planting enough maize to keep up with demand (let alone to start making up for last year’s deficits and stock draw-downs). They needn’t have worried, it seems, as the USDA’s latest survey shows the second highest acreage since 1944. This came as quite a shock for the US maize

market, which had risen to record highs in June after the USDA estimated lower plantings. With good weather recently, maize yield potential is rising and some analysts think the crop could be large enough to start loosening up carryover stocks (recently projected at their tightest level for many years). The USDA also ‘found’ an extra 7.6m tonnes from last year’s crop in its June 1 quarterly stocks survey - which may mean the crop was under-rated or that feed/ethanol demand has been over-rated. This combination of higher than expected acreage and stocks caused a massive slide in Chicago maize prices in the first week of July- but it wasn’t only ‘fundamentals’ that drove prices down. Much of the decline was down to a hemorrhage of support for futures from speculative funds across commodities, especially ‘overbought’ markets like maize, as investors become increasingly spooked by ideas that the global economic recovery was stalling. There has also been a lot of discussion in the grain trade and in the broader financial community about record high commodity prices – for grains, oil and metals - starting to destroy demand. It is too early to judge how this phenomenon will pan out. So called macro-economic markets are notoriously fickle, rarely behaving with consistency these days as fund managers and currency dealers and their offshoots try to second guess the way ahead in uncharted waters. There is also a school of thought that some funds may actually be dumping their commodity assets to help drive prices down, so they can buy them back at much cheaper prices and so own both the good and the profit (from the earlier price rises). No-one knows how this story will end because financial markets are being driven by ‘sentiment’ – perceptions, scare stories and hopes rather than facts. As we go to press, fears of another meltdown in confidence like the Lehman bank collapse of 2008 – focus on a potential Eurozone or US debt defaults or a Chinese industrial slowdown. Any of these could be a mega-restraint on cereal prices although the potentially seismic effects of more macro-economic instability would hardly be welcomed by any industry, including the milling, feed and livestock sectors. Macro-economic meltdowns aside, speculative funds need fundamentals to go their way before jumping on, or off, a market bandwagon. In this respect all eyes in coming weeks will be on the weather in the USA. High maize yields could pitch this market into modest surplus, preventing prices from returning to the highs and maybe allowing them (depending on European and S American

maize crops) to return to much cheaper levels. Good pre-harvest weather in Canada, Europe and, later in the new season, Australia, could also reduce the big quality premiums currently being asked on milling wheat. Traders will also be keeping a keen eye the US soyabean crop, sown on a much smaller than expected acreage as farmers either planted more maize for the high prices or found themselves thwarted by the weather at planting time. Any supply problems for the world’s largest oilseed producer could set a firmer tone across the oilmeal complex, especially at a time of disappointing European rapeseed production (see below). Fortunately, Latin America is continuing to reduce US dominance of this market with its own larger crops – a trend that should continue into 2012 if soyabean prices stay anywhere near present levels.

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Main commodity highlights since our last review
Wheat – a welcome drop in prices Better than expected supplies, an early return of exports from the former Soviet Union and a crash in maize prices helped wheat prices to drop on both sides of the Atlantic to some of their lowest levels since July 2010, almost 37% below the February (2½-year) peaks. Strong maize prices had been a key support to wheat through the feed link between the two grains. Without that help, wheat has had to acknowledge its own more bearish news. This included the Intrenational Grains Council raising its world crop estimate from 663m to 666m tonnes after upward revisions for China, India, Pakistan Turkey and North African countries, more than offsetting an expected cut in the EU estimate. The IGC also raised consumption, so world ending stocks will still decline slightly in 2011/12 – though at 185m tonnes, the projected figure is hardly tight in relation to consumption needs. The adequacy or otherwise of quality supplies remains a key question for the wheat market going forward after last year’s wet weather downgraded so much milling to feed in North America, Australia and parts of Europe. At this stage, it is too early to make an assessment of any likely rebound – North American spring crops are hardly sown, Australia has just began planting and European harvests are still some weeks away. Weather in the next few weeks and months will gradually clarify this picture. In the meantime, the omens are mixed Good quality – and a bit more tonnage than the pessimists feared – from the US hard red winter crop has seen this important breadwheat taking a larger role, both in the US – where it has been replacing some of the market share held by tighter and more expensive hard spring wheats – and on

Andy Gingrich Owner/Millwright

PROACTIVE INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE
Elmira, Ontario, Canada

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After consulting with Tapco, Spectrum had Proactive Industrial Maintenance replace the existing buckets with FDA-compliant urethane resin CC-HD buckets. Tapco urethane buckets resist product adhesion and flex to release caked-on build-up. “Now sticky extruded pellets and kibble slide right out of Tapco urethane buckets,” Bowman says. “We went from scraping buckets twice a day, to cleaning on a weekly schedule, without concerns of cross-contamination,” Bowman says. “The cleaning process is faster and easier, too, which is important when you’re processing 140 tons a week.”

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44 | July - august 2011 Grain

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Get the best out of your grain. That means maximum throughput capacity with
overseas markets, where it has dominated US export sales. Along with an early, fast harvest, the better crop news saw HRW fob export prices come down to about $470/fob 156.1m. Within the total, soft wheat could be as high as 130m tonnes, higher than last year. EU expor ts to Third countries, which star ted so strongly last year, have finished with a relatively small gain and will clearly be lower in 2011/12, due to the smaller crop and carryover stocks. The EU is also availing itself of cheaper foreign wheat, dropping import restrictions and in the early weeks of the new season (starting July 1) actually importing far more than exorting. Amid the rebound in Russian/other CIS supplies, the world market should easily cope with less EU exports and Europe itself will also avail itself of a lot of this cheap Black Sea wheat to keep upward pressure off its own feedgrain prices (Black Sea milling wheat was offered for expor t $25/35 cheaper than French in early July). Millers will also be hoping that Germany – which has suffered some yield loss from drought - escapes last year’s wet harvest problems and reasserts its role as the EU’s quality wheat provider, reducing dependence on expensive high protein North American wheats. The French already seem to be getting some good quality from early cuts, if more variable yields – a classic result of a too hot/dry summer. Latest IGC estimates suggest the CIS region as a whole will harvest 103.5m tonnes of wheat compared with last year’s dismal 82.3, and the average 115m of the previous two years. The USDA, which forecasts similar crop figures for the CIS, has exports for the region rebounding to 26m from 12.7m tonnes with some analysts even two or thee million tonnes higher still. These crops are not yet all home and dry – in the EU or in the Black Sea region – but the picture should be clearer by the time of our next issue. The EU market has responded to this loosening outlook with much che a pe r pr ices recently. On the Paris futures market, milling wheat recently fell as low as €185/tonne from a high of €251 in May - a far cry from markets targeting €300 earlier this year. London feed wheat futures are also sharply down, with added pressure from larger than expected stocks and the UK’s giant Ensus ethanol plant announcing a halt to operations due to this year’s high raw material costs. A mild bounce in prices has been seen on both markets as we go to press but further declines in European wheat costs can’t be ruled out if harvests continue to turn out better than expected in coming weeks and/ or the US futures markets have another shakeout.

recently, about 23% under the May peaks, which were the highest in two years. Dark Northern spring wheat (14% protein) for export has dropped by a similar amount as US millers switched to HRW. A lot of uncertainty persists over the size of the US and Canadian spring planted crops due to wet weather holding up fieldwork. The USDA’s June survey put US sown area at 13.6m acres compared with 14.4m expected in March but many private observers still think this optimistic. The same applies to Canada, where about 6m acres of cropland in total is thought likely to be abandoned to the weather this year. Still, it is not out of the question that some better late summer weather will give Canada a higher milling component than from last year’s weatherplagued crop. Canadian western red spring wheat prices have also come down on fob markets with US wheat. Attention is also turning to Australia, where planting has recently star ted in western states. Some dr yness problems have been repor ted

there but the main issue will be whether the east avoids last year’s untimely soaking and produces its usual, mainly high quality harvest. Despite some downward revisions from drought and heatwaves, Europe’s crop has been nowhere near as bad as some feared back in May. The wheat total seems to settling around 134/138m tonnes versus last year’s 136m and the recent peak (2008) of

• Quality and quantity of North American, German and, late in the year, Australian high grade wheats • US/EU planting intentions/weather this autumn – it’s not so far away and, in the US there will again be hot competition for land from corn • Russian and other CIS export sales strategy. Will they continue to market aggressively – or will they (Russia especially) put more into stocks after last year’s crop scares? • Import demand for wheat – will it increase as the market gets cheaper? • Will the US maize crop be big enough to lower prices, slowing diversion of feed demand to low grade wheat? Coarse grains – more maize than thought Maize supplies may be less tight than they looked a few months ago. In Europe itself, the earlier droughts and heatwaves appear to have left this crop largely unscathed and production is expected to rtise from last year’s 55.6m to 59/60m, possibly a few hundred thousand tonnes higher still after recent favourable weather. However, the main driver in this market is the USA where the government shocked the trade at the close of last month when it not only ‘found’ an extra 7.6m tonnes of old crop stocks but estimated planted acreage far higher than expected after this year’s weather-delayed star t. On ‘trend’ yields of 158.7 bushels/acre, the new US harvest area estimate of 84.9m acres implies a 342m tonne crop – just ahead of domestic and export demand forecast at 337m – allowing some replenishment of thin stocks, rather than another drawdown as expected in the previous month. If yields dropped to last year’s levels, output would fall to 330m. But if it repeated the 2009 yield (also a late crop), output could advance to 355m tonnes, accruing a comfor table increment to carryover stocks. Until recently, all the early moisture and some good weather since suggested higher rather than lower yields. However, the crop needs to get through the key pollination period when some predicted heatwaves could lower potential so this crop is by no means on the home run yet. Elsewhere in the maize supplying world, the CIS countries are expected by the IGC to raise production to 21.5m from last year’s 17.6m tonnes. Some of this increase will likely go to export, mainly from Ukraine which has emerged as the world’s number four maize supplier in recent year’s, supplyling about 8% of trade. Argentine maize output is also expected to increase from 21 to 24m tonnes, raising export supplies to about 17m. However, frost may have trimmed the Brazilian crop and with feed demand rising internally, its contribution to export could drop from 11m to 8m, or less.

KEY FACTORS & QUESTIONS FOR THE MONTHS AHEAD

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46 | July - august 2011

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Upward pressure on maize prices has been relieved by the past season’s abundance of feedwheat on world markets at cheaper prices, dampening buying interest for the coarse grain from compounders in the big Asian importing countries. Demand also seems to be levelling off in other sectors, including evidence of consumer resistance in the USA when corn approached $8/bushel ($315/tonne) on futures markets. Although higher meat prices have helped livestock producer margins, some sectors are struggling and US total feed demand will either stagnate or grow only slowly next season and then, not even back to the 2009/10 level from which it fell over the past season. US ethanol use of maize is seen increasing by a mere 2% compared with 9% in 2010/11 and 23% in 2009/10. The US Congress is currently battling over whether to extend subsidies on blending and import protection for the ethanol industry at the end of this year amid a clamour to end them from food, feed and other traditional users. Some experts believe that, while world energy (i.e. crude oil) prices stay up, the US 15% blending mandate will continue to draw maize into this sector, subsidies or not. Time will tell. The maize market also needs to keep one eye on China, where the gap between local crops and growing domestic consumption, mainly in feeds, is continuing to widen. China has recently been an active buyer of US maize, this season being the first in many years that it has required significant imports. Some traders see that demand expanding to as much as 5m or 8m tonnes ahead – certainly enough to put a more bullish tone back into

disappointing arley crop looks like ending up about 1.5m tonnes below last year’s, 10m below the 2009 result and 13m under 2008.

KEY FACTORS IN THE MONTHS AHEAD
The size of the US maize crop – will it mean some stock accumulation or further depletion? China’s deficit and its attempts to fill that with imports – markets get jittery when China moves Global economic problems – not good for consumer confidence, so no friends to meat and feed demand but potentially bearish for grain & raw material prices Speculators’ interest in commodities – is the party over? Probably not quite yet. Ethanol competition for maize supplies – getting amber signals for endless government subsidies? Demand growth seems to be slowing but shortages of sugar-based ethanol from Brazil are tightening the world market for this gree fuel, supporting its price structure. That could turn out more bullish for maize going forward

Oilmeals
Soya ‘sentiment’ is caught in a play-off between conflicting factors. The US is running to a tight finish with old crop supplies and, after disappointingly low plantings, is officially expected to see its harvest contract by 3m tonnes this summer. Weather there is also a bit too hot for comfort, so there could be a yield penalty too. This is making users uneasy and has been pushing up prices on the US and European markets recently. However, acreage recounts in August might find the US crop area is under-rated. Also, for a crop only recently planted many pundits it is too early to start writing down yield prospects on the basis of one, possible hot week. Less bullishly, Latin America’s larger than expected 2011 crops are still feeding into the market, later than usual in the year, offsetting tight US supplies. Many analysts think this region will again try to raise production in the autumn (for harvest spring 2012) if soyabean prices stay anywhere near current levels. That could mean enough soya for the rest of the new season whether or not the US crop has been under-rated. Another restraint on this market is slower demand growth from the top soya customer, where imports grew 22.5% in 2009/10 but only by 3% this past season. Chinese imports are expected to accelerate somewhat in 2011/12, largely because it has sown a smaller domestic

crop. However, even this anticipated growth has been trimmed from 11.5% to 8.5% in the past month to reflect a slower pace of buying amid high port stocks and weak crush margins. China has been responsible for two thirds of all the growth in world soya meal demand in recent years. Soya in turn accounts for twothirds of all oilmeal production, so China’s influence on this sector remains vast. In fact this is the biggest factor in a slowdown in the growth of world demand for oilmeal products from 6.2% in 2010/11 to an expected 3.8% in the coming season. In a still recessionary world environment, that implies some restraint on prices although it could obviously be over-ruled if something went seriously wrong with the North or South American soya crops in coming months, Among the other oilseeds, USDA expects world rapeseed production to dip for a second year running to 58.75m tonnes with a 2m tonne drop in the EU only partly offset by a larger Canadian crop. Estimates for both remain negotiable. The EU’s currently looks slightly better than the USDA figure after late rains followed the summer drought. Canada’s, on the other hand could be anywhere between 12.6m and 13.4m tonnes after rain delayed sowings and brought forth an array of estimates for abandoned plans. As usual rapeseed meal prices will tend to track market leader soya. Sunflower prospects are currently better than last year’s, thanks largely to recovery in the former Soviet countries hit by drought and heatwaves last year. Russia’s crop is seen rising to 8.3m from 5.35m tonnes, Ukraine’s to 7.5m from 6.8m. Even the EU crop is currently expected to improve a bit, from 6.8m to 7.1. Although one-time leading supplier Argentina expects a fall from 3.6m to 2.8m tonnes (drought) world output should advance from 31.1m to 34.6m tonnes. Along with larger crops of cottonseed and palm kernels, these changes suggest a total world oilseed crop of 455.5m tonnes – plus 4.3m. Crush will grow faster (13.3m) but there is plenty of slack in the food use/stocks numbers to cope with that so carryout at the end of the season will be ample.

US and world maize prices if it all transpires. Fortunately for other users, world maize trade in total is not expected to grow much in 2011/12 at around 93.7m tonnes, partly due to ongoing competition from feedwheat, partly to smaller EU import needs amid this year’s larger domestic crop. However, feed grain supplies get no extra help from barley this year, despite a forecast increase in world production of 7.5m tonnes, courtesy of larger CIS crops. World carry-in stocks of this grain have been drawn down even more, by 13m tonnes, so another deficit year is expected to reduce consumption and stocks further in 2011/12. The EU’s own

KEY FACTORS IN THE MONTHS AHEAD
• Final US soya planting estimates and weather in the next two months • Is China, the engine of world crush growth, slowing down? • How much soya will the Latin Americans sow this autumn? • Did Canada complete its rapeseed planting plans? • EU winter rapeseed plantings- up or down for 2012?

48 | July - august 2011

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