Early U.S. commercial wheat sales in marketing year 2013/14 are off to a fast start on the heels of strong sales momentum in the second half of 2012/13.

After a slow start in 2012/13 due to less competitive prices, the sales pace increased as competitor supplies tightened in early 2013. As of June 20, U.S. commercial sales for 2013/14 currently stand at 8.57 million metric tons (MMT), 28 percent ahead of last year.

The fast start is not stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from projecting that total U.S. exports will fall 4 percent from 2012/13 to 26.5 MMT, 7 percent below the five-year average.

As the first major exporter to harvest a new crop, U.S. supplies are in especially high demand when world supply is tight. However, USDA expects every other major wheat producing country to boost wheat supplies this year, which could, depending on the price relationships, slow the pace of U.S. sales.

2013/14 hard red winter (HRW) sales of 2.71 MMT are 13 percent ahead of last year. Strong sales to South America have more than offset a slightly lower purchase pace this year by Nigeria and Mexico.

A short Argentine crop is helping lift HRW sales to Brazil, Peru and Chile. Being unable to procure adequate supplies from Argentina, Brazil temporarily lifted its non-Mercosur import duty from April 1 to July 31, 2013.

Shipment of HRW significantly increased the last two months of the 2012/13 marketing year. Sales for 2013/14 have already surpassed total U.S. wheat purchases from last year of 510,000 MT and the five-year average of 319,000 MT.

Brazilian purchases

AS of June 20, Brazil had purchased 752,000 MT of HRW. Sales to Peru are 175,500 MT, compared to 26,000 MT at this point last year and 476,000 MT total in 2012/13.

With FOB prices running higher than competitor supplies, current pre-harvest hard red spring (HRS) sales of 1.70 MMT are 2 percent behind last year’s sales to date. Sales are lower to four of the top five 2012/13 customers, including a 36 percent decline in Taiwan to 107,000 MT to date.

The Philippines is the only one of the top five customers ahead of last year’s pace, up 4 percent to 220,000 MT.

Calendar year 2013 has seen very good soft red winter (SRW) sales. USW maintains constant contact with SRW customers and as its price settled, Egyptian imports soared in the second half of the 2012/13 marketing year.

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Additionally, China appears to be restocking supplies with large purchases of SRW in 2013/14. As of June 20, China had purchased 1.31 MMT of SRW, compared to just 131,000 MT last year at this time. Sales to Mexico are 31 percent above last year’s pace at 488,000 MT.

Mexico was the largest SRW customer the last two years, buying more than 1.0 MMT each year. Overall SRW sales of 3.0 MMT as of June 20 are more than double the sales last year at this time of 1.16 MMT.

As of June 20, white wheat sales were down 17 percent year over year. Most of the 1.06 MMT in sales represented in the June 20 report were completed before the discovery of an unapproved genetically modified wheat trait in volunteer plants in a single Oregon field.

Japan and South Korea are the top two white wheat buyers in the world and both countries have temporarily suspended new purchases of U.S. Western White wheat. Japan has not rejected any purchases scheduled to deliver after the incident was reported, yet current 2013/14 sales to Japan are 36 percent below last year at 133,000 MT.

Sales to South Korea of 90,000 MT are 60 percent lower than last year. Taiwan bought Western White wheat last week, while white wheat sales to Philippines and China are down slightly compared to last year at this time.

Relatively high durum prices due, in part, to smaller crops, have limited sales the last two years. As of June 20, total durum sales of 102,000 MT are 34 percent lower than last year.

Sales to Italy, the top durum customer, are down 31 percent to 20,000 MT. Algeria has not purchased any U.S. durum to date, compared to purchases of 9,000 MT at this time last year and 180,000 MT in 2012/13. Guatemala has already purchased 11,000 MT, compared to a 2012/13 marketing year total of 15,000 MT.

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