Global wheat supplies are at record low levels caused primarily by a couple of years of adverse weather. According to Farm Futures analyst Arlan Suderman, every major wheat producing area in the world saw adverse weather at some point during this year. With that came higher prices in an attempt to encourage greater production and ration demand. Although several countries did try to ramp up production, adverse weather hampered their efforts to rebuild supply.
"Unfortunately, wheat being a food grain is an inelastic commodity, meaning it's difficult for higher prices to slow demand for a food staple," says Suderman. "So the world was hoping for a big crop from the Southern Hemisphere in order to meet regular growing demand."
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics released a new wheat estimate overnight of 15.5 million metric tons. The industry as a whole is expecting the crop to be 15 million metric tons or less, although ABARE was not expected to lower its estimate that much. Analysts were predicting a forecast of 18 to 19 million metric tons.
"Nothing is guaranteed in the commodity markets, but I anticipate we will see prices quickly go to new highs," Suderman says.
If the size of Australia's crop comes in lower than trade estimates, the market has to go to higher levels to try to slow demand to ration out the remaining wheat supply.
"If good rains were received in the next week to 10 days to stop the deterioration of the crop and to salvage a crop, at that point prices could probably confirm a high and begin to work lower," Suderman says. "But we are running out of time for those rains."