If a person drives from Winnipeg to Edmonton along the Yellowhead highway in late summer, the scenery would include field after field of golden wheat. In recent years more and more grain farmers are seeding oil seeds, corn and specialty crops like peas, however wheat continues to dominate the Canadian prairies. And western Canada can still be considered one of the great bread baskets of the world.
Wheat field near Somerset, Manitoba
Major wheat producing regions of the world
Export: 1.1 million tons
Domestic consumption: 8.8 million tons
Key export market: The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) namely Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt account for a majority of Brazilian wheat imports.
Outlook: In an attempt to reduce its dependency on imports, the Brazilian government is looking to double its wheat output in 5 years by promoting wheat planting in the Cerrado region, according to Bloomberg. The country’s per capita demand for wheat is expected to rise 7% to 56 kg per person by 2018.
Export figures and consumption data provided by the USDA
Export: 3 million tons
Domestic consumption: 16.5 million tons
Key export market: Indonesia is one of the biggest importers of Turkish wheat but is also accusing Turkish companies of “wheat dumping”.
Outlook: Turkey’s 19 million ton wheat output in 2010 was lower than 2009 levels but enough for domestic consumption. In 2011, Turkey issued tenders to buy wheat according to Reuters. Wheat has also been getting reduced acreage as farmers are switching to other crops.
Export: 4 million tons
Domestic consumption: 38 million tons
Key export market: Russia largely exports to the Middle East and North Africa; Egypt is its largest wheat export market followed by Turkey, Syria, Iran and Libya.
Outlook: Last summer’s drought has cut wheat plantings and the Kremlin has banned exports of the crop. Plantings are expected to fall 2.3% to 64.2 million acres this year according to Bloomberg.
Export: 5 million tons
Domestic consumption: 4.8 million tons
Key export market: South-East Asia and China are some of Kazakhstan’s biggest export wheat markets.
Outlook: Kazakhstan’s wheat crop was hurt last year by dry weather and the country put in place restrictions on exports to curb domestic price inflation. Wheat prices increased 12.4% in the January-March period of 2011, according to AgriMarket.Info.
Export: 5.5 million tons
Domestic consumption: 14.1 million tons
Key export market: The Middle East and North Africa, primarily Egypt, is the biggest importer of Ukrainian wheat.
Outlook: Ukraine imposed restrictions on grain exports in October of last year but the country’s Prime minister said the country will do away with the restrictions if the country has a good harvest. Germany and the American Chamber of Commerce have asked the country to stop legislation that would affect state control over grains exports.
Export: 8.5 million tons
Domestic consumption: 4.4 million tons
Key export market: Brazil and India are some of the biggest importers of Argentine wheat.
Outlook: The International Grains Council expects Argentina’s wheat production to fall 10% in 2011-2012 to 13 million tons, according to High Plains Journal.
Export: 13.5 million tons
Domestic consumption: 4.5 million tons
Key export market: Indonesia and China are some of the biggest importers of Australian wheat.
Outlook: Australia could export as much as 15 million tonnes of the wheat on growing demand for the grain. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences expects a 24.3 million tonne harvest this year but expectations are that the crop output in Western Australia will lag projections, according to IIFL.com.
Export: 17.5 million tons
Domestic consumption: 7.9 million tons
Key export market: China, Japan, Iran, US and South Korea are the biggest importers of Canadian wheat.
Outlook: Fears of flooding have led Canada to cut expectations for its wheat harvest to 24.5 million tonnes this year. That’s higher than previous harvests, but 400,000 tonnes lower than projected, according to Agrimoney.com.
Combine Jamboree near Winkler, Manitoba
Export: 19.2 million tons
Domestic consumption: 18.5 million tons
Key export market: North Africa, specifically Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco form France’s biggest wheat market. Civil unrest in the Middle East has seen a boost in exports to the region.
Outlook: France will reap 35.8 million tons of soft wheat used in bread, baked goods and animal feed. That’s 0.3 percent more than in 2010, according to Bloomberg. France has profited from Russia’s ban on exports.
Export: 35.4 million tons
Domestic consumption: 35.7 million tons
Key export market: Japan, Nigeria, Mexico and the Philippines are America’s largest wheat export markets.
Outlook: Dry weather in the south and possible flooding in the North are expected hurt wheat production. The USDA only rated 37% of the winter crop “good or excellent” compared to 65% last year according to Bloomberg.
Wheat field on the vast Great Plains of the central United States
|Top Ten Wheat Producers — 2008 (million metric ton)|
|People’s Republic of China||112|
|Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)|