Fiscal 2009 grain and feed exports are forecast $500 million lower than the February forecast to $25.6 billion. This is largely due to downward revisions in both wheat volume and value. Offsetting are corn, rice, and certain feeds. Large global supplies and sluggish trade, aggravated by the economic crisis, contribute to reduced U.S. competitiveness. Wheat is lowered $1 billion to $6.4 billion, reflecting abundant world wheat supplies and intensified competition. A 1.9 million ton revision from February to 24.6 million tons is due to higher expected competition during the summer months from most major exporters, including the EU, Russia, Ukraine, and Australia.
The forecast export value for coarse grains is increased $400 million since February to $9.6 billion, mostly due to an upward revision in corn unit value, reflecting a recovery in global demand and anticipation of a tighter U.S. market. Competition from Argentina and Brazil remains largely unchanged; on balance, however, other competitors in North Africa and the Middle East are boosted, resulting in a lowering of U.S. corn exports by 500,000 tons to 44.5 million.
Rice export value is up $200 million to $2 billion due to the larger proportion of rice shipped fully milled and global prices that have fallen more slowly than expected. This results in a significant boost in average unit value. Volume, however, is lowered 100,000 tons to 3.5 million because of slow sales of rough rice to Latin America.
The fiscal 2009 export forecast for oilseeds and products is $20 billion, up $1.6 billion from the February estimate. The revised forecast reflects larger export volumes for soybeans and products and stable to higher unit values, particularly for vegetable oils. Soybean export value is forecast at $13.1 billion, up $1 billion due to a significant increase in export volume as unit price remains unchanged. Soybean exports for the remainder of the fiscal year are expected to remain strong, reflecting crop shortfalls in Argentina and record imports by China. Forecast soybean oil and meal export values are increased on improved volumes and unit values. Reduced South American crush and exports will provide additional marketing opportunities for U.S. products.
The fiscal 2009 forecast for cotton exports is raised $200 million from February’s forecast to $3.8 billion due to a 200,000-ton increase in shipments now forecast at 2.7 million tons. Since February, the U.S. share of world trade has grown as the operation of India’s Minimum Support Price has decreased their competitiveness in major import markets. The United States has been the primary beneficiary.
Exports of livestock, poultry, and dairy products are forecast at $18.4 billion, down nearly $500 million from the February estimate. The $400 million reduction in the dairy product outlook accounts for much of the decline with beef, and hides and skins making up most of the rest. Weakened dairy import demand is coupled with increased competition from subsidized exports of nonfat dry milk and butterfat from the EU. On a positive note, global dairy prices appear to have stabilized, and have recently begun to show signs of recovery. The beef export forecast is lowered $200 million based on weaker demand by major trading partners Japan, South Korea, and Mexico. Hides and skins fall nearly $200 million due to weak demand for leather as car sales slump.
Conversely, poultry exports are revised upward $300 million due to stronger shipments in the first half of the year. The pork export forecast is up slightly as stronger-than-expected sales to Mexico and Japan in early 2009 more than offset recent concerns about A/H1N1 influenza. A combination of foreign restrictions and reduced consumption in some countries is expected to temper growth, but the impacts are expected to be short term.
The fiscal 2009 export forecast for horticultural products is unchanged at a record $21.5 billion. Overall, sales volume is mostly flat, but higher prices for some products boost export value. The global economic crisis is expected to slow the growth in horticultural export value to 3 percent, the slowest rate in the past 7 years. Weaker exports to major markets such as Canada, Japan, and Korea are largely being offset by stronger exports to Mexico, China, and Taiwan. Horticultural exports to the EU are expected to remain flat.
The fruit and vegetable export forecasts are unchanged from the February forecast of $5.7 billion each. Dominated by almonds, tree nut exports are unchanged from the February forecast of $3.6 billion. A record almond harvest combined with slowing EU demand has put downward pressure on prices and export value. This is offset by surging pistachio exports (shipped mostly to the EU and China) due to reduced competition from Iran which has suffered a major crop shortfall.