Damage to bumper global wheat crop spurs use as animal feed
By Karl Plume
July 20 (Reuters) - From the heart of the U.S. big farm belt to Colombia, Vietnam and Indonesia, livestock producers are snapping up wheat damaged by bad weather or low in protein, providing pigs and poultry with grain more often milled for making bread.
The increased global purchases of cheap, poor quality wheat for animal feed come as a combination of bumper crops and low prices increase its appeal compared to alternatives like corn.
"There's a massive amount of wheat out there that didn't make the grade," said one U.S. grain merchandiser, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The next best option is to either carry it or find another mouth for it as feed."
Farms in the United States, the Black Sea region, Europe and Australia have had bumper harvests, which are likely to push global wheat stocks to record levels for the third consecutive year in 2016/17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
But quality problems have weighed on prices. Now wheat is eating into demand for corn - also a staple animal feed and already under pressure from its own ample global supplies.
The USDA last week hiked its estimate for global wheat consumption in the coming year by 13.3 million tonnes to the highest ever, "primarily on increased feed use" which the agency estimated at 144.42 million tonnes.
The last time so much wheat was used as feed was four years ago, when a harsh drought slashed U.S. corn production.
This time around, bumper corn crops mean it is selling below benchmark-quality wheat, but discounts for damaged wheat and low protein make the difference. The USDA cut its forecast for global consumption of coarse grains, including corn, by 3.3 million tonnes. Continuación...