Exports of U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat for the 2010-11 crop year, which ended May 31, reached 322 million bushels – the third highest on record and up nearly 60 percent on the year. North Dakota production accounts for nearly half of total U.S. HRS production which means that a large portion of those exports came from our state’s producers. Exports were up to every region, led by our traditional import customers but also boosted by sizeable export sales to a number of non-traditional customers including Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Iraq.
The Asian region accounted for over half of U.S. HRS exports, reaching 169 million bushels, up nearly a third from the previous year and the highest in 6 years. Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand accounted for more than eighty percent of the sales, but significant year-on-year gains were also noted in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Jim Peterson, North Dakota Wheat Commission marketing director, recently visited with buyers from that region when he presented the HRS outlook at the U.S. Wheat Associates South Asian Buyer’s conference on June 23. He says that future demand from that region continues to look promising, “buyers are still very interested in U.S. HRS even with the price premium it commands in the market. The economy in that region seems to be recovering a bit faster than for other areas, and the young, growing population base continues to shift to higher quality bread products as their incomes improve. This is positive long-term for US HRS wheat. In 2010 we benefited from Australian and Canadian quality shortfalls, so 2011 may pose a bit more competition for that demand, but they like the quality benefits they see in our wheat. ”
Exports were up nearly 30 percent to the Central and South American region to reach 66 million bushels. Significant increases in exports were reported for Mexico, Columbia and Guatemala with the entire region accounting for 20 percent of U.S. HRS exports. Demand from the African/Middle East region was up substantially in 2010-11 with HRS exports to that region the highest in 15 years at 58 million bushels. Compared to last year, exports were over four times higher. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were the largest single country export destinations. The three countries combined imported a total of 34 million bushels, compared to zero in 2009-10. Exports to Europe were up three-fold in 2010-11 to reach 30 million bushels. Large buyers were Italy, Spain, Belgium and England.
Japan remained the top export market with imports of 59.9 million bushels, just below the record of 61.5 million in 2006-07. The Philippines took the number two spot with 34.3 million bushels, followed by Taiwan with 25.5 million and Turkey at 20.6 million bushels. This was Turkey’s first time as a top ten market, and sales to both them and Taiwan established new record highs. Korea’s imports were up 6 million on the year to 16.2 million, also a record level but due to the strong overall exports they slipped from fourth to fifth. Rounding out the top ten markets were Mexico (14.9 million bushels), Italy (12.7), Columbia (9.8), Spain (9.5) and Venezuela (9.1).
Erica Olson, NDWC marketing specialist, concludes “2010 was a very strong export year for US HRS producers, and we also posted gains in our own domestic market. This provided good support to prices throughout the year. Early sales in the 2011 marketing year are also off to a good start with exports so far totaling 87 million bushels, compared to 45 million bushels one year ago.”