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Digital Re-print - September | October 2011

Global Feed Markets: September - October 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


With the Latin American planting season approaching, weather there will be keenly watched for its potential to push up prices. There is also some debate about whether farmers there will sow more maize instead of soya and whether the La Nina weather phenomenon might cause troublesome dry conditions. Both should become clearer in the next few months

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September - October 2011


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Wheat supply grows and grows as corn crop shrinks

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isolation from the coarse /feed grains which, thanks to maize, are presenting a far more bullish story than we expected in our last issue. This is mainly due to troublesome crop weather in the largest supplying country, the USA. As mentioned earlier, this crop was sown late after a wet spring. Now it seems that the planted area was smaller and the rate of abandonment larger than expected. Heatwaves have interfered with pollination during July, resulting in some unusually poor predictions for national average yields and a what looks like a disappointing crop in a


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year when markets needed a big rebound in production to replenish thin stocks. Where the US crop will end up will only be answered when the combines have rolled, starting in September, and may not be fully clear until late in the calendar year. At this stage, the official figure of 317m tonnes is little more than 1m above last years and about 26m tonnes less than analysts hoped for earlier in the year and could yet shrink further if the USDA decides, as markets expect, that its has over-estimated planted acreage. The good news is that, so far, the world maize output for ec a s t r e mains about 31m tonnes higher than last seasons and would still be a new record 850/860m amid bigger and/or better than expected crops in Brazil, Argentina, the EU, and Ukraine all the big alternative sources to the USA. However, amid a smaller US sorghum crop and an inadequate recovery in global barley production this year, a disappointing US maize crop still leaves a balance of fairly tight coarse grain supplies, putting increased onus on wheat to meet growth in global feed demand. (Wheat is expected to supply 15m tonnes of this growth in 2011/12 co pared with 10m for coarse grains in total. As said, the US maize crop story is not played out yet. It could yet turn out better than the pessimists fear if the US yield-hit from poor pollination has been over-rated. There are also some mitigating factors on the demand side of the market that may held keep cereal feed costs under some sort of control. US exports, feed and ethanol consumption of maize all appear to be slowing down quote sharply in response to tight supplies, high prices and the general economic malaise affecting the US, European and global feed and fuel markets. This has already resulted in the US going into the new next season with slightly higher than expected carryover stocks. Demand for maize is expected to remain flat or falling across these sectors in 2011/12. Even so, by the close of the new season, US and world ending stocks of maize will decline to rather risky low levels. That alone suggests continuing interest from the speculative community, which could make maize costs reluctant to backtrack from their recent record high levels. Continuing strength in maize will inevitably underpin the value of wheat and other cereals as alternative feeds. A similar situation for the US soyabean crop has kept a firm undertone beneath the market for oilseed meal. Under the same planting/ not given up yet on grain and oilseed prices reaching even higher levels. For coarse grains and soyabeans there is certainly a case to be made for an ongoing bull market, provided demand holds up in these economicallystraitened times. Wheat is plentiful but its value will be influenced by how the feed commodities perform and but the amount of quality grain available. Maize does need to rebuild stocks but may not now be able to star t that process until the next US crop is harvested in last quarter 2012. Soyabeans and other oilmeals will look to Latin America to keep supplies up and prices under control so any weather problems in the latter region will certainly find markets sensitive. wheat feeding total go even higher than this as many Asian and other maize consumers will be interested in this seasons large supplies of sub-par quality wheat from the Black Sea region and other suppliers who have suffering quality downgrades of their milling wheat crops from wet harvests. Despite the constant increments being made to world crops, wheat prices embarked on a renewed rally in August partly linked to concerns about North American and German quality supplies but probably influenced far more by fresh support from outside investors chiefly speculative funds covering heavily sold short positions on the futures markets.
Table 1: IGC crop estimates (main suppliers)

than markets expected including a spring wheat component (about 17.4m tonnes) similar to last years. Canadian quality is expected to be much better than from last years crop with harvest weather recently looking promising so more high grade wheat should be available for export to European and other customers. The other area of concern, is next years US hard red winter wheat crop the biggest component in wheat expor ts from the worlds biggest wheat exporter. Over the past season, unusually large exports of these grades,

EU CIS Inc Russia Ukraine Kazakhstan USA Canada Australia Argentina India 150.7 117.3 63.8 25.9 13 68 28.6 21.8 8.4 78.6

138.3 113.6 61.7 20.9 16.5 60.4 26.8 22.2 8.8 80.7

136.8 82.3 41.5 16.8 10 60.1 23.2 26.6 14.7 80.8

137.5 107.6 57 21 15 56.5 24 24.8 13 85.9

growing weather stresses as maize, the soya crop estimate has already shrunk over the last two months by about 5m tonnes to 84m, about 6m less than last years crop and equal to about 4.8m tonnes less soyabean meal. This is important in the context of world oilmeal supplies to which soya normally contributes about 70%. However, the situation is not quite as bad as this might suggest. World stocks of soyabeans are large, thanks to last springs big Latin American crops, and can be drawn down to supplement crush. There is also considerable leeway in the surplus implied between estimated soyabean output and crush, (the bulk of which is usually assumed to go to food/direct feed uses or stocks). Last season it was 40m tonnes; this season it could shrink to about 25m, helping crush continue to expand to meet an estimated

Main commodity highlights since our last review

Wheat plenty of wheat but less quality milling?
LATEST estimates from the International Grains Council confirm much larger than expected wheat crops in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the EU and Canada, putting the world total 26m over last years. If the highest trade and semi-official national estimates for some of these countries are correct, we can expect that total to rise further in the coming months, possibly put ting the crop ahead of 2009s (estimated at 679/684m by the IGC and USDA respectively). World wheat consumption is expected to soar by 20/22m tonnes, much of which will be down to increased feeding in place to tight and expensive maize. This is quite a shift from the position of the past few years (see chart), when feed use of wheat stagnated, even fell year-on year. Globally, feed demand for wheat is currently seen by the USDA rising by 15m to a 21-year high of 130.1m tonnes. Europe itself is predicted to use 56.5m tonnes of wheat this season, 4m more than in 2010/11. Demand from this sector is also seen rising in the former Soviet countries (+3.2m tonnes), the USA (3m) and China (4m tonnes). It would not be surprising to see the final world

growth of 4% (about 8m tonnes) in world soya meal demand. Against that, however, supplies of some alternative oilmeals especially rapeseed, the EUs principal home-grown oilseed, will be relatively tight after a smaller than expected harvest. As mentioned above, the speculators have

In September so far, the trend has reversed as the global wheat supply position has improved and the US and Euro-zone economic crises spooked speculative investors out of the futures markets. As we write, the Chicago market is about 10% off its mid-August highs. European milling wheat futures are down by only 4% from their late-August peaks due to the weakness of the Euro. There is a genuine concern about US spring wheat supplies. The crop was planted late amid wet weather and harvest acreage estimates keep declining. Current estimates (which could shrink further in coming weeks are for a crop of 12.9m tonnes (v last years 15.5m) and with lower starting stocks, a 17% drop in total supplies to 18.7m tonnes. However, the US is only expected to use about 7.5m of its own spring wheat with a similar amount going to export. Demand is down from last year because US millers are using more hard red winter wheat (from a particularly high quality crop this year) while foreign buyers are taking a lot less US wheat overall, switching to other cheaper origins, especially the Black Sea suppliers. Strength in US hard wheat prices has also been undermined somewhat by Canadian officials issuing a surprisingly high crop estimate of 25m tonnes about 2.5m more

in effect, helped save the day for many foreign consumers when Black Sea wheat supplies ran short. However, traders are worried that a prolonged drought in the southern Plains will prevent many farmers from sowing this crop in the early autumn. The past years HRW output had already declined by about 22% as farmers switched to other, more promising crops. Even if the US cuts HRW exports in 2011/12 by about 29% as the USDA currently predicts, pipeline stocks of this grade could shrink by almost 30% by next June. An even smaller crop then would imply much tighter supplies of HRW than the market has grown used to. Does this matter so much in a year when the Russians and others will hike their export potential by far more? At this stage the forward futures markets are quite bullish still, the Chicago soft red winter wheat contract quoting prices more than 10 % higher into mid-2012 (though it would not be the first time by any means, if futures price-revelation proved wide of the mark). For the near term, though Russia continues to make all the running in pricing of wheat on the world export

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markets, undercutting the US and Europe by about $10/20 per tonne (and at one point as much as $30/40) to win the lions share of non-routine export tenders. So far, neighbouring Ukraine and Kazakhstan, also with far larger crops this year, have taken a lower profile in export markets, concentrating on bringing their crops in and, in Ukraines case, still hampered by the tangle of red tape that was imposed to control outflows of grain during the Russian and other regional crop failures. However, we can expect both of

Russias neighbours to be keen competitors for exports in the months ahead, helping to restrain wheat prices on world and European markets - although with some caveats. Much of the Ukrainian crop is thought to have been severely downgraded by wet weather and fit only for feed rather than milling (though presumably a lot of the crop can be blended up with some of the more expensive North American quality wheat). There has also been talk in the trade of Russia having a more finite supply of good quality wheat than markets have been assuming after its early-season onslaught on the export market, in a bid to recapture its tarnished reputation as a reliable, cheap supplier. Time will tell but, on past experience with the CIS countries, the old adage big crops get bigger has often been true and of the supplies are there, we might

expect all three of the main regional supplies to try to cement their return in the wheat export markets. All had ambitious export expansion plans before last years weather problems and all have invested heavily in infrastructure to facilitate these often in joint ventures with multi-national grain and agribusiness companies who will want to see some return. For these reasons, it would not be surprising to see combined regional exports easily reaching or even exceeding the 32.5m tonnes forecast by USDA. Last season, these countries supplied just 13.6m compared with 2009/10s 35.8m and 2008/09s record 37m. Not to be overlooked is Indias retur n for the f ir s t time in several years as a major world wheat expor ter, initially allowing about 2m tonnes. Adding all these increases in supply to the world total cer tainly mitigates the impact of expected lower supplies from the US and the European Union. Even here the news has been improving in the past two months as the EU-27 crop total has jumped back to about 136/137.5m tonnes slightly ahead of last years. This is an incredible turnaround after some jeremiahs were forecasting possible 20/25% yield losses at the height of the early summer droughts and heatwaves. Although the two biggest producers, France and Germany, have seen smaller crops, output is up in Eastern Europe, Spain and the UK. Total EU wheat supplies will still be lower than last seasons because starting stocks of 11.7m tonnes were drawn down by about 4.5m to maximise exports during Russias temporar y absence from the market. However, exports are expected to drop back by about 6.6m in 2011/12 and impor ts to rise by 3m tonnes, leaving a slightly higher stock at seasons end next July 1. Indeed, so far this season, impor ts are actually exceeding expor ts, putting fur ther restraint on domestic EU cereal prices.


Final quality outcome and volumes for North American, German and, late in the year, Australian/Argentine breadwheats Northern hemisphere planting/weather this autumn will the US get rain in time for hard red winter sowing? Russian and other CIS export strategy. Will they continue to market aggressively or will they (Russia especially) put more into stocks after last years crop scares? How much milling as opposed to feed wheat can the Ukraine export? US domestic & world import demand for feed wheat will it continue to increase if maize supplies tighten?

Coarse grains smaller than expected US maize supply

The USDAs September estimates had been keenly awaited by grain markets on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the main arbiters of feed supply and pricing in the months ahead. In the event, the all-important US crop estimate turned out just below average trade guesses at 317.4m tonnes 11.4m lower than last month and only 1m more than last year. However this was heavily offset by cuts of 7.6m tonnes in US consumption and 3m tonnes in exports. USDA thinks that corn prices of $7/bushel (about $276/tonne) will cut use across the board within the US itself not only in animal feed but even in the ethanol fuel sector, for the first time in several years. At the same time, non-US maize output was raised by 4.8m tonnes, leaving world total production only 6m tonnes smaller than forecast in August and still almost 31m tonnes bigger than last years. Against that, world demand, is seen rising by just 18m tonnes, (7.3m less than in August). So while global ending stocks at the end of 2011/12 (next September) will still be historically tight things wont be quite as squeezed as expected last month. Maize futures initially rose in response to the US crop forecast, implying many traders think it will shrink further as the USDA adjusts acreage, if not yields, in later estimates. The Department is still counting fields that were planned for corn and prevented by wet weather, although some analysts think it has made allowance enough for these in its current estimates. Good yields from early harvested fields in September meanwhile suggest that the losses from poor pollination during a hot July might have been exaggerated although the earliest planted fields were always expected to do better with a longer growing period. In the same vein, not all the US trade believes demand will be as low as the


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for some upward adjustments. World soya supply is boosted by larger than usual carr yover stocks from last season in Latin America about 9.5m tonnes more than a year ago. This relatively good overall supply is expected to allow world soyabean crush to still rise by about 10m tonnes in the coming season, equal to about 8m tonnes more soyabean meal. The supply outlook for other oilmeals is mixed more cottonseed and sunf lower meal and, by supplementing this years smaller output with car r yover s tock s from las t year, fair ly s table r apeseed meal supplies. Europe will be far more dependent on rapeseed impor ts after a disappointing harvest here. This does have the potential to push up prices although the brunt of the impact will be on canola oil consumers as rapeseed meal tends to follow the soya meal market. Overall, the supply increase for oilmeals should be able to approximately match the anticipated rise in world demand without the need for much fur ther price-rationing. Soyabean prices had been f ir m all summer on the factors mentioned above but are dipping a bit as we go to press as the latest round of economic jitters sparks fresh doubts about the strength of world commodity demand, especially related to fuel and meat consumption. Estimates for top soya consumer Chinas soya demand have already been scaled back a bit although the rate at which its planners expect pork and poultry production to expand suggests it will remain a potential bullish force in this market. Wi th the L atin A mer ican planting season approaching, weather there will be keenly watched for its potential to push up prices. There is also some debate about whether farmers there will sow more maize instead of soya and whether the La Nina weather phenomenon might cause troublesome dr y conditions. Both should become clearer in the nex t few months.

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USDA thinks in 2011/12 especially if prices star t to drift back and crank it up again. Time will tell. In Europe itself, the maize crop is one of the biggest ever after good summer rains boosted yields. The USDA boosted its forecast by 1m tonnes in its September estimates to 61m but French analyst Strategie Grains thinks another 700,000 can be added to that figure, putting it 5.8m tonnes over last years and roughly in line with expected consumption. Maize crops may also be better than expected in other supplying countries. Argentine estimates are running as high as 30m tonnes compared with the USDAs latest forecast of 27.5m and last years 22m tonnes. The Argentine government has already announced a big jump in its expor t allocations to about 20m tonnes compared with last years 15m. Third largest exporter Ukraine also upped its maize crop forecast to 20m and expor ts to 12m versus the USDAs forecast of 10m and last years 5.5m tonnes. Among the other coarse grains, world barley output is up by about 8.5m tonnes this season but for the second year running, demand will out-run supply (by 4.5m versus last seasons 11.2m tonne shor tfall), so world stocks will continue to decline. European output is similar to last years when it ran about 3m tonnes shor t of demand. However, EU consumption is expected to drop back in 2011/12 as some feed demand switches over to the more abundant wheat crop. Sorghum output on the other hand is down by 5m tonnes this season and will barely match expected demand. Adding in the other coarse grains puts the world total for this cereal group about 11m tonnes behind demand. The resultant drawdown in world stocks will leave them at around 13% of consumption about seven weeks supply. Overall, the outlook for coarse grains suggests the markets may just about scrape

by in 2011/12 by slowing demand growth. That means keeping prices high enough to ration demand although pundits will doubtless continue to argue in the months ahead where the equilibrium price lies. One thing is clear, however. These relatively low stocks make it imperative for the US and other coarse grain producers to come up with a better crop next year and any weather scares will find markets very sensitive.

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- The final size of the US maize crop smaller or bigger than the USDA September number? - Chinas maize deficit and its attempts to fill that with imports markets get jittery when China moves - Global economic problems not good for consumer confidence, so negative for meat and feed demand and a potential restraint on grain & oilseed prices - Speculators interest in commodities is the party over? Probably not quite yet. - Ethanol competition for maize supplies amber signals for endless government subsidies and demand growth does seem to be slowing. But shortages of sugar-based ethanol from Brazil are tightening the world market for green fuels, supporting their value. That could turn out more bullish for maize going forward

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Oilmeals soya less tight than thought

Oilseed meal prices were star ting to look fr isk y in the summer months as concer n built that the mar ket leading US soyabean crop would turn out much smaller than expec ted af ter weather problems. Cer tainly this crop will be well down in 2011 by about 6.6m tonnes or 7% . However, the situation there does now seem to be stabilising, even allowing


- 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 meet its rapeseed planting targets & is the crop there under or overrated? - EU winter rapeseed plantings - up or down for 2012?

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