UPDATE 2-FranceAgriMer raises non-EU soft wheat export outlook again

(Adds comments from press conference)

PARIS, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Farm office FranceAgriMer on Tuesday increased its forecast of French soft wheat exports outside the European Union in 2020/21 for the second month in a row, pointing to brisk demand for a smaller French surplus this season.

In monthly supply and demand data, FranceAgriMer projected soft wheat exports outside the EU and Britain in the July-June season at 6.85 million tonnes, up from 6.7 million tonnes seen last month.

That would nonetheless be 49% below a record 13.46 million tonnes estimated for the 2019/20 season, reflecting a sharp drop in France's harvest this year due to adverse weather.

"There's good export momentum," Marion Duval, deputy head of FranceAgriMer's grain unit, told reporters.

"China has been a very active buyer in the first half of the season, although it remains to be seen what sales look like in the second half."

France has already shipped 1 million tonnes of wheat to China since July and some traders expect exports to reach 2 million tonnes over the full season.

Expected soft wheat exports within the EU were trimmed by 80,000 tonnes, while domestic demand from animal feed makers was increased by 100,000 tonnes due to increased competitiveness versus maize, FranceAgriMer said.

Those adjustments led FranceAgriMer to reduce forecast soft wheat stocks at the end of 2020/21 to 2.5 million tonnes from 2.6 million last month.

For maize, FranceAgriMer raised its outlook for exports within the EU for the second month in a row.

However, a reduction to animal feed use and starch demand led FranceAgriMer to keep its maize stocks projection stable at 2.2 million tonnes.

For barley, it increased its 2020/21 stocks outlook to 1.2 million tonnes from 1 million last month, reflecting an upward revision to supply and reductions to domestic malt use and intra-EU exports.

A coronavirus pandemic was making forecasts more tentative, with renewed French lockdown measures in the run-up to year-end holidays causing concern about consumption of products like beer and meat that use grains, FranceAgriMer officials added. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Forrest Crellin, editing by Sybille de La Hamaide, Susan Fenton and David Evans)

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