World cereal markets are likely to be comfortably balanced in 2017/18, with total supplies exceeding projected demand and inventories on the rise. Global cereal production in 2017 is forecast to surpass the 2016 peak by a small margin. Total production of coarse grains is set to reach a new record, with most of the expansion taking place in South America and Southern Africa. However, wheat production is forecast to decline slightly from last year in spite of an upward adjustment since October driven by a larger-than-earlier anticipated harvest in the Russian Federation. The decline in wheat production from 2016 mostly reflects a lower harvest in the United States, as well as a projected fall in Australia’s wheat crop after a record output in 2016. Global rice production in 2017 is expected to remain broadly stable.

World cereal utilization in 2017/18 is set to expand by 1 percent from the previous year. Overall, food consumption of cereals is forecast to grow by 1.3 percent and feed use by 0.4 percent, while industrial utilization is projected to rise by 1.2 percent. Based on the latest forecasts for cereal production and utilization, world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2018 are set to reach a new record level. This would result in the global cereal stock-to-use ratio remaining stable at a 15-year high of 27 percent, with the ratio for wheat up slightly and those for coarse grains and rice down marginally. World wheat inventories are currently pegged at an all-time high despite a downward revision since October. Global stocks of rice and coarse grains are also set to reach record levels. The increase in wheat and rice stocks largely reflects an anticipated accumulation of inventories in China, whereas for coarse grains, the expansion reflects higher end-of-season maize stocks in South America and the United States.

World trade in cereals in 2017/18 is forecast to remain close to the 2016/17 estimated volume, with an expected decline in wheat trade largely offset by larger shipments of maize, sorghum and rice. Overall, given the ample size of export supplies, competition among major exporters in 2017/18 is expected to remain stiff.