(Reuters) — U.S. exporters loaded and shipped more wheat last week to global buyers than any time in at least the past 23 years, with most of the grain headed for China and Brazil, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data on Thursday.
Exporters shipped 1.204 million tonnes of U.S. wheat in the week ended Sept. 12, including 406,700 tonnes of mostly soft red winter wheat and white wheat to China and 186,400 tonnes of hard red winter wheat to Brazil, USDA data going back to 1990 showed.
Both countries’ import needs rose this year after adverse weather damaged their domestic crops. Brazil’s needs were further bolstered by weather damage to the crop in Argentina, its largest supplier.
The accelerated shipments, however, were expected and were not likely to persist as other global suppliers should be able to meet a larger share of demand in the coming months.
“It’s mostly Brazil and China and we know that once these countries finish their demand, there’s not much following,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource Co.
“The Chinese needed the wheat for blending because their crop was of diminished quality, with some loss. They are showing a little more interest now in the Australian market, which is where they should be.”
Brazil has already bought more U.S. wheat this season than any year since the mid-1980s and millers there continue to make almost-daily price inquiries, U.S. traders said. Their latest purchases have been for October shipment, they said.
But wheat from Argentina’s next harvest was expected to begin flooding the market by the end of this year so U.S. shipments to the country were expected to drop.
U.S. wheat export sales so far in the current marketing year, which began June 1 totaled more than 17 million tonnes, up 38 percent from the same point last year.
USDA is currently forecasting total U.S. wheat exports at 29.94 million tonnes, a 9.2 percent year-on-year increase.
Season-to-date shipments from the world’s top wheat exporter are 37 percent above a year ago.