European Union wheat export hopes received another blow as Strategie Grains cut forecasts for both this season and next, even as France, the bloc’s top shipper, reduced its own expectations.

Strategie Grains downgraded by 1.9m tonnes to 28.0m tonnes its forecast for EU soft wheat exports this season, as ends this month, citing the dent to demand from soaring prices.

That represented the second downgrade in a week to an EU soft wheat shipment outlook, after the European Commission reduced its own forecast for 2021-22 by 1.0m tonnes to 31.0m tonnes.

Strategie Grains also trimmed its forecast for EU soft wheat exports next season, by 500,000 tonnes to 30.3m tonnes, thanks to a lower expectation for world demand in the face of expanded competition from shipments from North America, after a drought-hit Canadian harvest last year, and Russia.

The analysis group’s outlook for 2022-23 remains far less optimistic than the commission’s which, while downgraded by 2.0m tonnes, remained at a record high, excluding the UK, of 38.0m tonnes.

‘Dissuasive prices’

The briefing came as France, the EU’s top wheat producer and exporter, underlined the disincentive to importers provided by high prices, as it cut its own shipment hopes for a third successive month.

FranceAgriMer, the official ag bureau, reduced by 150,000 tonnes to 9.10m tonnes its forecast for French soft wheat shipments outside the EU this season.

“We have prices that are competitive but which remain dissuasive for buyers,” said Marc Zribi, head of FranceAgriMer’s grains unit, although underlining resilient demand from Morocco, which suffered a drought damage to its own crop.

‘Moisture deficit’

FranceAgriMer also noted damage to this year’s French crop from dryness, saying that a “moisture deficit, combined with high temperatures, impacted winter crops”, although Catherine Cauchard, head of the bureau’s crop monitoring service, added that recent rains had provided some relief.

The French soft wheat crop ended May rated 67% good or excellent, down by more than 20 points during the month, and compared with a year-ago figure of 80%.

Agritel analyst Nathan Cordier on Wednesday cautioned of a hit to French soft wheat yield prospects from the “very low amount of precipitation from the beginning of the year to mid-May”.

“Even if we had some rain in June, as we had in the last few days, it is not enough to bring the yield back to the normal level,” of 7.3 tonnes per hectare, Mr Cordier told the International Grains Council conference in London.

The analysis group has forecast a French soft wheat harvest of 33.3m tonnes this year, down by 2.2m tonnes year on year.