New Delhi: India, the world’s second-biggest wheat grower, may import more grain than the government forecast to meet demand from flour mills and biscuit makers. Imports may reach four million tonnes (mt) this year, a third more than the 3mt that agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has said the government may purchase, according to three traders and seven company officials surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Increased imports by India may strain global stockpiles of the grain. Wheat demand may reach 75.5mt, exceeding a government output estimate of 72.5mt, as record economic growth boosts demand.
“Even if production reaches the level estimated by the government, India is going to import wheat because of an increase in consumption,” M.V. Balasubramaniam, managing partner of Narasu’s Roller Flour Mills, said over the phone from the southern city of Salem.
Global wheat supplies will decline to 121.8mt at the end of the marketing year on 31 May, the lowest since 1982, the US department of agriculture said on 12 January. Production will drop to 590.8mt, 5% less than last year.
Global wheat prices climbed to a 10-year high in October, partly because India resumed imports in February 2006 after six years. It purchased 6.5mt. Prices are up 24% in the past year.