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Strategie Grains cuts EU 2019/20 wheat export outlook by 1 mln tonnes
* Consultancy sees 2019/20 EU wheat exports at 22.1 mln tonnes
* Cites lower competitiveness of EU wheat, mainly French
* Stategie Grains cuts 2019 wheat and barley crop forecasts
PARIS, June 13 (Reuters) - A worsening of European soft wheat's competitiveness on world markets led crop consultancy Strategie Grains to cut by more than 1 million tonnes its forecast for EU soft wheat exports to third countries for the 2019/20 season on Thursday.
Strategie Grains now expects the European Union to export 22.1 million tonnes of soft wheat in the season starting on July 1, down from 23.2 million estimated last month.
That would still be above the revised estimate of 21.0 million tonnes for the current 2018/19 season.
"The outlook here has actually worsened since last month thanks to the new increase for Ukraine’s exportable surplus, given that Ukrainian wheat is a main competitor of EU wheat," it said in a monthly report.
"At current prices, France would export less wheat than in 2018/19 although the northern EU countries – Germany, Lithuania, Latvia – would perform solidly, assuming that their harvests rebound in line with current forecasts (dry conditions in the Baltic countries are currently causing concern)," it added.
France is the European Union's largest wheat exporter.
Ukraine's winter wheat harvest, which dominates the country's wheat harvest, is likely to rise 8.4% percent to 25.9 million tonnes this year due to a higher yield, APK-Inform consultancy said late last month.
Strategie Grains also trimmed its forecast for EU 2019 soft wheat and barley crops due to dry conditions in central and eastern Europe combined with abundant rainfall in France and the southwestern part of the 28-member bloc.
The 2019 soft wheat harvest is now seen at 142.8 million tonnes, down from 143.9 million estimated last month but 12% above last year's drought-hit EU wheat harvest.
For barley, expected production this year was at 59.6 million tonnes, down from 60.3 million seen in May but 7% larger than the 2018 crop.
"Various factors have contributed to a slight deterioration in the condition of the soft wheat and winter barley crops in Europe," the consultancy said.
That included drought in Spain, and a forecast for dry, hot conditions through the end of the growth cycle on the eastern side of the EU (Baltic countries, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia) and on a smaller scale, Germany.
Above-average rainfall was also beginning to set off alarm bells in Hungary, Italy and, to a lesser extent, Romania, Bulgaria and France, where conditions overall have been good so far this season, it said.
In contrast, Strategie Grains raised projected maize production by 500,000 tonnes this month to 63.4 million tonnes. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Dale Hudson)
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