Strategie Grains raises EU wheat export outlook on brisk demand

FILE PHOTO: The European flag flies outside of the La Canada shopping centre in Marbella, southern Spain January 23, 2013. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron promised on Wednesday to give Britons a referendum choice on whether to stay in the European Union or leave if he wins an election in 2015, placing a question mark over Britain's membership for years. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

PARIS (Reuters) - Consultancy Strategie Grains increased sharply its forecast of European Union soft wheat exports this season, saying it saw the EU benefiting from strong overseas demand at a time of reduced availability in some other export zones.

The French-based firm now expects EU exports of soft wheat, excluding durum, to reach 30.5 million tonnes in the 2019/20 season to June 30, up from its previous projection of 28.7 million in December.

“The EU continues to benefit from strong global demand,” it said in its monthly grain report published on Thursday. “The EU is really acting as the world’s breadbasket this season.”

Despite increased wheat sales by Ukraine and Argentina this season, a leveling off in shipments from top exporter Russia and lower exports from the United States and Australia were leaving more room for EU shipments, Strategie Grains said.

Analysts had been expecting the EU to export more this season after a rebound in its wheat production, but a run of sales to countries including Egypt, China and Iran have boosted prospects.

However, traders say there could be a shift in the allocation of export demand if transport strikes in France continue and force companies to load shipments in other EU countries.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Alex Richardson