Indonesia is set to steal Egypt’s spot as the world’s largest wheat importer as the country’s drive for self-sufficiency in corn has led to shifts in its overseas purchases.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s latest estimates, Indonesia is expected to import 12.5m tonnes for the 2017-2018 marketing year, surpassing Egypt. “Indonesia is now the leading global wheat importer,” said the USDA.
Egypt has held the title as the world’s major importer of wheat since the 2007-08 season, with Brazil in the top spot before that, said analysts at AHDB Market Intelligence.
The rise in wheat imports comes as wheat demand for food and feed is rising. Consumers are eating more bread and noodles, pushing up demand, but the main reason for wheat imports has been the government’s policies to protect local corn production.
Import restrictions on corn have pushed the price of feed higher, forcing importers to turn to wheat. “Even though there are feed wheat import restrictions, lower-priced milling wheat is still an affordable ingredient to process into feed rations,” according to the USDA.
Competitively priced wheat from Russia and other Black Sea producers continues to put pressure on high-quality suppliers such as Canada.