As of Friday August 20, the harvests are still not over. In the north of France, as in Normandy, combine harvesters are still in the heat of the moment. This year, the cereal harvest, which started late, is playing extra time.
Despite the rainy episodes, which complicated the task in the fields, morale is almost in good shape. For Jean-François Loiseau, president of the Axéréal grain cooperative, “2021 is rather a good year, that’s a pleasure”. In an agricultural world hardly inclined to shout from the rooftops its reasons for satisfaction, judgment takes on its full meaning.
Same story with Benoît Piétrement, chairman of FranceAgriMer’s “field crops” specialist council. “Economically, it’s a pretty good year. The surprise came from the very sustained classes. They started to progress in the fall of 2020 and continue to hold up ”, he asserts. Cereal prices even soared in August. As proof, the ton of soft wheat delivered to Rouen has crossed the threshold of 250 euros. “We have to go back to January 2013 to find equivalent levels”, underlines Nathan Cordier, from Agritel firm.
The golden grain sets the tone and carries in its wake the other grains. Like durum wheat, which trades at nearly 335 euros per tonne in the port of La Pallice, in La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime). Or that of malting barley, sold at 270 euros per tonne. Never seen since 2011. This rebound in prices is blessed bread for French grain producers. As always in these markets, it is closely linked to the international situation.
A large volume of beans available in 2021 in France
“With the drought that has affected Canada, causing fires in the west of the country, the harvests are catastrophic. Wheat production could drop from 35 million tonnes in 2020 to 24 million tonnes this year ”, estimates Mr. Cordier. Analysts’ eyes are also on Russia. “There is a disappointment with the level of harvest in Russia. It could reach 72.5 million tonnes, compared to the expected 85 million tonnes ”, specifies Mr. Cordier. At the same time, however, demand is still strong. Whether in China, Africa, the Maghreb or Egypt, the pace of imports is not slowing down.
In this context, France is defending its positions on the world market. “We export half of our wheat production, a quarter of which to Europe, and the rest outside the borders of the Twenty–Seven “, recalls Mr. Loiseau. In 2020, French cereal exports represented a total amount of 7.18 billion euros, including 3.84 billion for wheat.
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