PARIS: FranceAgriMer on Wednesday lowered its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the European Union this season, citing uncompetitive French prices in a world market roiled by the war between major grain suppliers Russia and Ukraine.

The farm office projected France’s soft wheat exports to non-EU destinations in the 2021/22 season that ends in June at 9.5 million tonnes, down from 9.7 million estimated in March. The reduction partly reversed a sharp upward revision to the farm office’s forecast last month, when it anticipated France would replace some Black Sea trade disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Traders say an increase in demand for French wheat to replace disrupted Black Sea supplies has subsided, partly because Russian exports have continued despite Western sanctions. “With shipping costs, we are not necessarily the best placed (wheat) origin on price at the moment,” Marc Zribi, head of FranceAgriMer’s grain unit, told reporters.

Some market participants had a more negative outlook for French exports but the office preferred to make a cautious adjustment given the uncertain context of the Ukraine war, he added. FranceAgriMer also on Wednesday raised its forecast for this season’s French soft wheat exports within the EU to 8.1 million tonnes from 7.8 million seen in March, citing demand from Iberian and Benelux countries.

The office left unchanged its projection of French soft wheat stocks by the end of 2021/22 at 3.0 million tonnes, after sharply reducing its projection last month. In other cereals, FranceAgriMer trimmed its forecast for barley stocks at the end of 2021/22 to 1.3 million tonnes from 1.4 million, reflecting a 130,000 tonne increase in expected exports outside the EU.

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