PARIS- Analyst firm Strategie Grains lowered its forecast for European Union soft wheat exports this season for the sixth month in a row, and also cut its expectations for 2018/19 as EU wheat was seen continuing to lag more competitive Black Sea prices.
The analyst forecast EU soft wheat exports in the 2017/2018 (July/June) season at 20.3 million tonnes, down 0.9 million tonnes from its March estimate and well below the 24.2 million tonnes in 2016/17 despite a larger EU harvest this season.
It also trimmed its outlook for 2017/18 soft wheat exports outside the EU from Germany, down 300,000 tonnes to 2.9 million tonnes, and from Poland, down 100,000 tonnes to 900,000 tonnes.
EU countries, notably top wheat producer France, have seen overseas shipments curbed by abundant supplies of cheaper Russian and Ukrainian wheat, shifting more wheat to livestock feed markets within the bloc.
Strategie Grains cut its forecast for EU soft wheat exports in 2018/19 by 500,000 tonnes, citing a lack of competitiveness of most EU origins against Russian and Ukrainian wheat for new-crop prices.
This included a reduced outlook for French non-EU exports next season at 9.2 million tonnes and German non-EU sales at 4.4 million tonnes, it said.
However, EU exports in 2018/19 would still rebound from this season to reach 24.1 million tonnes, notably due to a recovery in German and Polish shipments and the good competitive position of Romanian and Bulgarian origins, it said.
Strategie Grains trimmed its outlook for EU barley exports this season by 200,000 tonnes to 6.75 million tonnes, citing reduced expectations for French and German shipments to Libya and Iran.
But it increased its forecast of global barley trade, pointing to higher demand from China's livestock sector, supported by the threat of restrictions on U.S. sorghum imports and tariffs against U.S. corn.
At the same time, the analyst firm raised its forecast of EU barley exports next season by 200,000 tonnes to 8.6 million tonnes, reversing some of last month's downward revision.
Despite an expected drop in demand from Iran and Algeria, imports by China and Saudi Arabia were seen remaining brisk and competition from Australia and Black Sea countries easing because of smaller projected surpluses there, it said.
On the import side, it increased its estimate of EU maize (corn) imports this season by 1.5 million tonnes to a record 16.8 million tonnes, reflecting heavy flows of Brazilian, U.S. and South African supplies.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz Editing by Edmund Blair) ((email@example.com; +33 1 49 49 52 18; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))