Members of the International Grains Council (IGC) convened for the 57th Council Session on January 20, 2023 at the International Maritime Organization, London. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Florence Kaibi, Agriculture Attaché, Kenya Embassy to Belgium, Luxembourg & Mission to the EU, Brussels.

The Secretariat presented supply and demand forecasts and market developments for grains, rice, oilseeds and pulses in 2022/23, as well as tentative acreage projections for some crops in 2023/24.

Aggregate grainsproduction was seen totalling 2,256m t in 2022/23, representing a fall of 33m y/y, mainly linked to a much smaller maize outturn – including reduced harvests in the US, Ukraine and the EU – contrasting with record wheat output. Despite a slight decline in consumption, pegged 1% lower y/y, at 2,275m t, world ending stocks were expected to tighten, albeit with combined major exporters’ reserves little-changed y/y. World grains import demand was seen falling by 17m t y/y, to 407m, tied to prospects for reduced dispatches of maize, wheat, barley and sorghum.

The Council noted that global wheat area was predicted broadly steady y/y in 2023/24, with larger sowings in the Americas contrasting with a pullback in the Black Sea region. While rapeseed plantings were likely to drop, they would remain well above average, including sizeable sowings in the EU.

Despite challenging conditions in some growing areas of South America, world soybean production was still seen advancing by almost 30m t y/y, to a new high of 385m, in 2022/23, largely on a sizeable Brazilian harvest. Record utilisation was anticipated, while inventories were expected to recover, albeit with major exporters’ reserves remaining historically tight. Trade was projected to rebound solidly, by 8% y/y, to 168m t, on stronger buying interest for assumed competitively priced Brazilian availabilities.

Reflecting smaller crops in key producers, the 2022/23 world rice outturn was seen falling by 12m t y/y. Against the backdrop of thinner supplies, food uptake was set to decline, while a marked tightening of stocks was predicted, including in China and key exporters. Although trade was projected to contract, volumes in 2023 would still exceed 50m t.

The Secretariat also presented its latest outlooks for world supply and demand for chickpeas, lentils and dry peas, noting that production of the latter was expected to rise by 11% y/y, 13.6m t, on gains in Canada and Russia, also feeding through to expanded use and a rebound in stocks. Trade was seen increasing solidly, with global shipments of all pulses predicted at 17.7m t, a 3% y/y gain.

The Secretariat updated members on developments with regard to its ongoing programme of work. This included an assessment of prospects likely to shape biofuels production in future years, also detailing work undertaken to build a biodiesel supply and demand model. Separately, the Council received updates on the intended expansion of durum and pulses prices coverage, together with the addition of grains reference prices and freight rates for the Baltic region. Additionally, the incorporation of sunflowerseed supply and demand analysis into its regular monitoring activities was noted, while a proposed survey on wheat quality criteria, to be undertaken with MedAmin, was presented.

Members also held discussions on the importance of gathering timely and informed data on traded volumes as a means of countering the potential for heightened market uncertainty. In this regard, members welcomed collaboration between the delegation of Japan and the IGC.

Against the backdrop of the International Year of Millet, the Secretariat noted that it would aim to improve its analysis by disaggregating its numbers for total coarse grains to produce supply and demand data separately for millet.

Concerning administrative issues, the Secretariat informed members of its partnership agreement with SITAGRI in efforts to improve market transparency, particularly on Durum Wheat.

The Council received statements from the WTO and IGTC on recent developments affecting grains trade. The Council welcomed the participation of the following observers and participants: Bangladesh, Brazil, Senegal, Taipei (Chinese) Separate Customs Territory WTO, and IGTC.

The Secretariat also provided a brief overview on the prior day’s Grains Forum, co-organised with Canada under the banner “Facilitating the reintegration of the Black Sea region into the global grains market” and “Sustainability in the grains value chain." The Grains Forum was opened by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau MP, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada.