French soft wheat exports will rise by more than had been thought this season, officials said, after a surge in demand from Morocco, whose own harvest tumbled amid the worst drought in three decades.

FranceAgriMer, the official French ag bureau, lifted by 300,000 tonnes to 10.3m tonnes its forecast for the country’s soft wheat exports outside the European Union in 2022-23, as started in July.

The upgrade took the figure more than 1.5m tonnes above last season’s total, and would represent the best performance since the 13.54m tonnes shipped in 2019-20, after a bumper harvest.

However, the forecast for French soft wheat stocks at the close of 2022-23 was kept at 2.55m tonnes, with the extra supplies for extra-EU exports balanced by downgrades to estimates for shipments within the bloc, and to figures for domestic feed and food demand.

Big buyer

The upgrade to the forecast for shipments outside the EU follows a strong start to the season for exports, which have, overall, beaten year-ago totals for four of the season’s five completed months.

Indeed, at 6.26m tonnes, exports outside the bloc have risen by 68% for 2022-23 up to December 8, to 6.26m tonnes, FranceAgriMer said.

The growth has been led by sales to Morocco, up 11-fold to 1.64m tonnes, after a drought which cut the domestic harvest by 64% to 2.70m tonnes, on US Department of Agriculture estimates.

Morocco’s total imports for 2022-23 will soar by 84% to a record 7.50m tonnes, the USDA believes.

Also in the frame

Algeria has been the second-ranked extra-EU importer of French soft wheat, with a total of 1.42m tonnes, up by 27% year on year, with Egypt third on 930,600 tonnes.

While there has been plenty of talk of Chinese orders too, the country has so far taken physically only 397,100 tonnes of soft wheat, a drop of 62% year on year.

Other popular destinations for French soft wheat exports include Yemen, at 272,600 tonnes, and Pakistan on 234,300 – compared with figures of zero in both cases for the same period of last season.

Exports to Cameroon, at 200,200 tonnes, are up 2.5 times year on year.