Morocco's Wheat Outlook Is Bad News for Top Exporters of Grain

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(Bloomberg) -- Morocco is poised to have a bountiful wheat harvest in 2018, and that may mean another slow year for the North African country’s top suppliers from Russia to France and Ukraine.

The crop will be 7.09 million metric tons this year, the Agriculture Ministry said in a document distributed Monday. That’s after the harvest more than doubled in 2017-18 and imports dropped 23 percent, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. The import duty on the grain will be increased in May, Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch said on the sidelines of a conference in Meknes, Morocco. He declined to specify the amount of the increase.

A big Morocco crop damps demand for the grain in the current season from France, Europe’s largest exporter of wheat. Consultant Strategie Grains this month cut its estimate of France’s 2017-18 exports to 8 million tons, largely due to lower projected shipments to Morocco. Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, and Ukraine are also top suppliers to Morocco, according to government data.

“We are working with cereal growers to address the drop in exports,” Stephane Travert, France’s agriculture minister, said separately at the conference. “2018 may actually see a revival in cereal exports to Morocco.”

Morocco may need less barley as well in 2018, with the harvest set to expand to 2.73 million tons from 2.5 million tons last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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