FAO’s latest estimate for world cereal productionin 2018 stands at 2 609 million tonnes (including rice in milled terms), down 2.8 million tonnes from the previous report in February. The downward revision rests almost entirely on a lower estimate for the United States’ maize output and reinforces an overall year-on-year decrease in global cereal production, currently estimated at 1.9 percent. Global rice production in 2018 is forecast to reach 515 million tonnes, up 1.6 percent from 2017 and representing an all-time high. The latest forecast is up 800 000 tonnes from February, with much of the upward adjustment stemming from revisions to historical production estimates in Nigeria. Rice production was also raised for Colombia and the United States, mostly on higher reported yields.

For the 2019 cereal crops, while the bulk of the winter wheat crop in the northern hemisphere is still in dormancy phase, FAO’s first forecast for world wheat production in 2019 is pegged at 757.4 million tonnes. At this level, this year’s output would be 4.0 percent above the level attained in 2018 but still short of the record high registered in 2017. For coarse grains, harvesting of the 2019 crops in southern hemisphere countries is expected to begin in the coming months, while planting operations will commence in May in the northern hemisphere.

Following this month’s downward revision of the 2018 world cereal production, the forecast of global cereal utilization in 2018/19 has also been lowered to 2 652 million tonnes, with most of the revision driven by expected cuts in the feed use of major coarse grains, especially in the United States. However, world utilization of coarse grains in 2018/19 is still set at 2.0 percent above the previous season’s level, while global utilization of rice is seen to expand by 0.9 percent and that of wheat by 0.5 percent.

FAO's forecast of global cereal stocks for crop years ending in 2019 has been lowered since February to 766.5 million tonnes. At these forecast levels, the ratio of global cereal carryovers to utilization (Stock-to-use) in 2018/19 would fall from 30.5 percent in 2017/18 to 28.3 percent in 2018/19, which, nevertheless, still represents a relatively high level. The latest downward adjustment mostly concerns the inventories of wheat and maize, while forecasts for end-season stocks of barley and rice have been raised since the previous report. Larger than earlier anticipated drawdowns of maize stocks in southern hemisphere countries and the United States are also seen to push down total coarse grains stocks in 2018/19 by almost 11 percent. Following further downward revisions to wheat stocks in several Asian countries and Argentina, total wheat inventories are expected to decline by almost 4 percent from their opening levels. By contrast, global rice stocks are set to reach a new record high, up 3 percent from their opening level, with India and China leading the season’s stock expansion.

FAO’s forecast for world trade in cereals in 2018/19 has been lowered by 2 million tonnes since last month to just over 413 million tonnes. At almost 171 million tonnes, the forecast of global wheat trade has been trimmed by around 800 000 tonnes since last month, largely on account of lower-than-earlier anticipated purchases by several Asian and South American countries. At this level, world wheat trade would be down 3.3 percent from the 2017/18 record level. Total trade in coarse grains is also seen heading to a contraction, falling by 0.7 percent from 2017/18 to around 195 million tonnes in 2018/19. The latest forecast points to a 1.1 million tonnes drop from February, as a downward adjustment to global trade in barley (reflecting further cuts in China’s imports) should more than offset an expected increase in maize trade (reflecting scaling up of imports by China and the EU). The forecast of international trade in rice in 2019 has been revised down marginally, by 200 000 tonnes, and now points to a 2.1 percent year-on-year contraction to 47 million tonnes. Deteriorating export prospects for Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay owing to expected harvest reductions account for most of this month’s slight, downward trade revision.

The FAO’s latest forecast has not incorporated historical revisions to area and production of cereals in China published by China’s National Bureau of Statistics in October 2018. A major review of China’s cereal balances in the aftermath of official historical revisions is currently underway with a view to publish the results soon.

1/ Production data refer to the calendar year of the first year shown. Rice production is expressed in milled terms.
2/ Production plus opening stocks.
3/ Trade data refer to exports based on a July/June marketing season for wheat and coarse grains and on a January/December marketing season for rice (second year shown).
4/ May not equal the difference between supply and utilization due to differences in individual country marketing years.
5/ Major wheat exporters are Argentina, Australia, Canada, the EU, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States; major coarse grain exporters are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States; major rice exporters are India, Pakistan, Thailand, the United States, and VietNam. Disappearance is defined as domestic utilization plus exports for any given season.