Relatively higher prices for Hard Red Winter wheat in the US are upsetting typical trade flows, with American millers importing more from non-traditional sources, including the EU.
According to the latest monthly USDA Wheat Outlook, the US is forecast to import 25 million bu of Hard Red Winter in 2023-24, up from just 5 million bu the previous year and the highest in at least 50 years. After drought affected production of US Hard Red Winter (HRW) wheat in consecutive seasons, “elevated prices motivated millers in select locations to seek out high-protein supplies from non-traditional sources,” the outlook said.
“This trade flow (origin and class of wheat) is atypical, as US wheat imports are normally dominated by Hard Red Spring (HRS) and durum imports from neighbouring Canada.”
In its latest monthly supply-demand update released last week, the USDA raised its US all wheat import forecast by 10 million bu from October to 145 million, the largest since 2017-18 when drought in the US northern Plains necessitated heavy spring wheat and durum imports from Canada.
“This year’s higher import forecast is driven by unusually large imports from the European Union,” the outlook said.
Despite this year’s expected big year-over-year increase in HRW imports, the US is still expected to import a larger amount of HRS at 65 million bu, up 5 million from last month’s estimate. On the other hand, projected durum imports at 40 million bu, were lowered 5 million from October “on continued slow trade with Canada.”