Record-high world grain production for second year in a row

With production surging by 4.4%, corn will drive world cereal grain production to record levels in 2020/2021, said the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in its first forecast of the new crops. It was the second forecast in a week of record global output as the planting season ends in the northern hemisphere.

The FAO forecast cereal grain production of 2.781 billion tonnes, up 2.6% from the record set in 2019/2020. “In spite of uncertainties posed by the pandemic,” it said, prospects point to “a comfortable supply and demand situation…Maize would account for the bulk of the predicted increase, with an expected expansion of 64.5 million tonnes to a record level of 1,207 million tonnes, boosted by record harvests in the United States of America (USA), Canada, and Ukraine, and near-record harvests in Brazil and Argentina.”

Rice production of 508.7 million tonnes would be the highest ever, up 1.6% from 2019/2020, while wheat “is forecast to decline from the previous year’s good level, largely on likely downturns in the European Union (EU), Ukraine, and the USA more than offsetting expected production increases in the Russian Federation and Australia,” said the FAO Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, issued last week.

Global grain consumption was forecast to rise by 1.6% to a record 2.732 billion tonnes. Corn usage would rise by nearly 3% “on expectations of a partial recovery in industrial demand, especially for production of ethanol in the USA, and a faster growth in feed use, particularly in China.”

The International Grains Council, in a report that preceded the FAO forecast by a week, projected wheat and feed grain crops would total a record 2.23 billion tonnes in 2020/2021, a 2% increase. The figure did not include rice, projected at 506 million tonnes. The combined figure for wheat, feed grains, and rice is 2.736 billion tonnes, compared to FAO’s 2.781 billion tonnes.

Both FAO and IGC expect an increase in carry-over stocks at the end of 2020/2021. According to FAO, stockpiles would total 926.8 million tonnes, equal to a four-month supply. It would be “an increase of 4.5% (nearly 40 million tonnes) from their already high opening levels.” Nearly half of the stocks would be held by China, which is expanding its state-held reserve.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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