EU rapeseed import forecasts upgraded as harvest disappoints


Strategie Grains lifted the bar on estimates for European Union rapeseed imports as it unveiled the latest of a series of downgrades for the bloc's own harvest, which has been hurt by poor weather.

The Paris-based analysis group lifted by 400,000 tonnes to 3.3m tonnes its estimate for rapeseed purchases by the EU, the top consumer of the oilseed, in 2016-17.

That would be a rise of some 15% from the 2.86m tonnes imported last season, according to official data, and represent the strongest buy-ins in three years.

The forecast is also higher than that expected by some other commentators, with the European Commission last week raising its estimate for 2016-17 imports to 2.91m tonnes, while the International Grains Council lifted it figure by 300,000 tonnes to 3.0m tonnes.

'Very heavy pest pressure'

Strategie Grains lifted the import forecast as it cut its estimate for the EU rapeseed harvest for a third successive month, this time by 570,000 tonnes to 20.7m tonnes.

The downgrade reflected in the main a cut of 410,000 tonnes, to 4.7m tonnes, in the forecast for France's harvest, thanks to the persistent wetness earlier in the year which has hurt wheat yield prospects too.

"Current feedbacks indicate yields that are generally 10-20% below last year because of poor flowering conditions, poor grain filling and very heavy pest pressure," Strategie Grains said, albeit underlining that rapeseed had been the winter crop least affected by France's poor weather.

Wet weather, besides tending to encourage crop pests and diseases, also hampers the fieldwork needed to apply pesticides.

The Polish crop was also downgraded, by 230,000 tonnes to 2.2m tonnes, while the German rapeseed output forecast was cut by 160,000 tonnes to 5.0m tonnes, with the revisions offset out to some extent by upgrades to harvests in countries including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

'Reduced yield expectations'

The downgrade follows a reduction last week by the European Commission to 20.53m tonnes in its estimate for "usable" EU rapeseed production this year.

And the International Grains Council cut its harvest forecast by 500,000 tonnes to 21.9m tonnes, citing "reduced yield expectations in the wake of recent heavy precipitation".

Separately, consultancy Adas, in its first report on the UK harvest, last said that "at this early stage of harvest are typically 5-20% below average" in the country, the EU's fourth-ranked rapeseed producer, after Germany, France and Poland.

Adas also noted reports that "seeds are smaller than usual", talk also picked up by talk by with farmers, with ideas of lower oil content in crops than usual.


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