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WMR-World Durum 2020

By: Jim Peterson
Posted: Oct 08 2020

The world durum situation in 2020 is characterized by smaller crops in the EU and North Africa, and production rebounds in the U.S. and Canada.  Total world production is up marginally from 2019 at 1.25 billion bushels, but still about 8% below the 5-year average.  The consecutive years of declining production in the EU and North Africa, combined with robust durum demand last year, for both feed and food use, has shrunk 2020 beginning inventories in many key countries as well, and June 2021 stocks may hit a six-year low.  This is leading to higher world prices for durum compared to a year ago, and prices in Europe are showing a firmer trend relative to Canada and the United States.  

Quality is not as big of a pricing factor in 2020, as it was in 2019, with most major production areas having generally favorable harvest conditions.  In the fall of 2019, significant demand was created by the very attractive prices for durum in Canada and the U.S. due to historic harvest rains.  This year there will be less of a supply push driving demand.  Overall world demand should remain fairly similar however, at nearly 350 million bushels, compared to an average of 295 million in the 2017 to 2018 period.  Imports from North Africa are projected to be 40% higher than they were a year ago, and in the EU they are projected steady with a year ago, but 80% higher than in the 2017 and 2018 period.  

Currently, U.S. export sales are running slightly ahead of a year ago, with strong sales again to Italy, but no sales as of yet to North Africa.  The relatively higher price levels in the EU, along with the expected uptick in imports by North Africa, should continue to support U.S. export sales.  Hopefully this translates into a stronger price trend for producers, as harvest pressure from better than anticipated production in both Canada and the U.S. eases.  Another supportive factor for U.S. durum prices into 2021 is that USDA is projecting record food use of durum in the U.S. due to continued strong sales of pasta. 

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