World grain stocks will resume their decline next season, sapped by hits to corn and wheat production in war-torn Ukraine, the International Grains Council said.

The intergovernmental group, in its first full forecasts for 2022-23, forecast that world grain stocks will shrink by 26.4m tonnes, resuming the decline seen in four of the five previous seasons.

The dip will reduce total world inventories of coarse grains, such as barley, oats and corn, plus wheat to 581.1m tonnes, the lowest on readily available data going back to 2015-16.

The decline was made “mainly on tightening in maize (corn) and wheat”, the IGC said, forecasting wheat inventories slipping to a three-year low and corn stocks to the lowest in at least eight years.

Wheat forecast

World wheat output will ease by 1.0m tonnes to 779.9m tonnes, falling for the first time in four years, as war-hit Ukraine suffers a 41% slump in output to 19.4m tonnes.

Australia’s wheat production was seen sliding by 23%, or 8.5m tonnes, from the weather-boosted record levels of last year, with European Union volumes expected to ease too – more than offsetting expansion expected for the likes of Canada and the US.

Russia is expected to enjoy a bumper harvest too, of 82.5m tonnes, up by 7.5m tonnes year on year.

Corn vs barley

For corn, world production will slip by 12.8m tonnes to 1.20bn tonnes, also reflecting largely the crisis facing Ukraine, where output will slump by more than one-half from last year, to 18.6m tonnes.

With US corn output seen falling by 7.4m tonnes to 376.6m tonnes, as high fertilizer prices curtail sowings of what is a nutrient-intensive crop, the global harvest will shrink despite expansion expected in Argentina and Brazil.

The IGC forecast too a fall in world output of sorghum – of which US sowings are also poised for a sharp decrease, of 1.10m hectares to 6.21m hectares, according to US Department of Agriculture estimates.

However, the IGC expects global production of barley and oats, both viewed as relatively low maintenance crops, to expand by 2m tonnes apiece in 2022-23.

‘New peak’

The council also underlined the prospect of continued growth in world grains consumption, up 20.8m tonnes to a record 2.30bn tonnes, despite the incentive provided by soaring values to curtail use.

“Despite forecasts for slower-than-average growth in feed and food uses, tied to potentially high prices and resulting demand rationing, world consumption is expected to edge to a new peak,” the council said.

Trade, however, was expected to slip to a three-year low of 407.3m tonnes, undermined by a weak Ukrainian export performance, at a time when shipments from sanction-hit Russia will remain relatively weak too.