French wheat exports to China in 2020/21 could surpass last season’s large volume as France’s status as one of the few approved suppliers allowed it to capture robust Chinese demand, trading firm Lecureur said on Wednesday.
French shipments to China are expected to reach 1.6 million tonnes in the first half of the July-June season, already equalling volumes over the whole of 2019/20, Thierry de Boussac, Lecureur’s commercial director, told the Global Grain conference.
The trading firm also projects France could export another 1-1.1 million tonnes of wheat to China over January-June, the second half of the 2020/21 season, he said.
China has increased its grain imports in recent months as it recovers from the coronavirus and swine fever epidemics, and tensions with Australia have increased the onus on other supplier countries.
France has already shipped nearly 1.2 million tonnes of wheat to China since July and some traders have seen the potential for 2 million tonnes over the full season.
Farm office FranceAgriMer on Tuesday raised its monthly forecast of French wheat exports, excluding durum, outside the European Union and Britain this season by 150,000 tones to 6.85 million tonnes, partly because of Chinese demand.
But a sharp drop in French harvest production this year was expected to cap French exports outside Europe at a maximum 7 million tonnes, compared with a record 13.5 million last season, de Boussac said.
For the second half of the season, Lecureur sees a 3.3 million tonnes export surplus, which will be dominated by China and core customer Algeria, which is expected to take 1.5 million tonnes of French wheat, he said.
However, if China decided to pause its wheat imports, that could free up 1 million tonnes of French wheat for Algeria and other destinations, such as Morocco and West Africa, he added.