Statistics Canada reported a rare trade surplus in May -- the second time since December 2016 -- with the last being a modest surplus of 9.7 million in July 2018. The May surplus was $762.3 million, a sharp improvement from the $1.1 billion deficit in April, with the value of exports rising more than the value of imports over the month.
Canada's exports of all merchandise to all destinations rose 4.6% to a record level of $53.1 billion in May, with nine of 11 groups reporting an increase. The broad Farm, Fishing and Intermediate Food Product group increased 4.5% from the previous month to $3.5087 billion, while a narrower Farm and Fishing Products group saw exports increase 5.9% from the previous month to $3.039 billion, a level that appears to signal record exports for a single month.
The following represents miscellaneous trade data for Canadian grains and ag products, with a focus on crops that receive less weekly attention in Canadian Grain Commission data.
Lentil exports in May totaled 181,842 metric tons, the largest monthly movement in three months and the largest May exports in four years. Pakistan and India were the largest buyers with close to 46% of the total volume shipped to these two countries, while the volume shipped to India was the largest in three months. The August through May volume shipped to India is calculated at 370,526 mt, up 161% from the same period in 2017-18. Cumulative crop year exports total 1.645 mmt, up 29.2% from the same period in the previous crop year and 92% of the 5-year average, while ahead of the steady pace needed to reach AAFC's current 1.8 million metric ton export forecast.
Chickpea exports were 13,205 mt in May, the lowest monthly volume reported in three months although appears to be the largest volume shipped in the month of May. Year to date, 127,351 mmt has been shipped, 16.1% higher than the same period in 2017-18 and 50.7% higher than the 5-year average, which is already higher than the 105,000 mt export forecast released by AAFC.
Dry pea exports were 353,736 mt in May, the largest monthly volume shipped in eight months although slightly lags the volume shipped in May 2018. For the second straight month, the largest share, or 50.7% of the total volume, was shipped to China. Cumulative exports total 2.653 mmt, up 6.2% from the same period in 2017-18, but down 1.8% from the five-year average. This pace is only modestly behind the steady pace needed to reach the current 3.1 mmt export forecast released by AAFC.
Mustard exports were 10,673 mt in May, with the largest share destined to the U.S., while Belgium and France were the next largest markets. Cumulative exports total 102,091 mt, up 5.6% from the same period in 2017-18 while 97.7% of the five-year average. Cumulative exports are well ahead of the pace needed to reach AAFC's current export forecast of 112,000 mt for 2018-19.
Flax exports in May were 62,333 mt, the largest monthly volume shipped in six months, with the largest volume shipped to China of 33,143 mt, or 53% of the total volume. Crop year exports total 366,899 mt, down 13.5% from the same period in 2017-18 and down 27% from the five-year average, while ahead of the cumulative pace needed to reach the current AAFC forecast of 400,000 mt shipped.
Canary seed exports were 19,898 mt in May, the largest monthly volume shipped in six months. Cumulative exports total 135,340 mt, up 13% from the same period in 2018 while 3.9% higher than the five-year average, while 8.3% higher than the current AAFC target of 125,000 mt.
Corn exports were 357,317 mt in May, up from 182,461 mt shipped in April and the largest monthly volume seen in data checked back to 2010-11, perhaps one of the largest months ever. Most of the volume was shipped to western Europe, with Spain, Ireland and the U.K. shipped 334,719 mt or 93.7% of the total volume. Cumulative exports total 1.344 mmt (September through May), up 22.2% from 2017-18 and 51.1% higher than the 5-year average. Cumulative exports account for 64% of the 2.1 mmt export forecast used by AAFC, behind the steady pace needed to reach this target although could be easily reached should monthly volumes continue close to the volume achieved in May.
Canada's corn imports were 203,142 mt in May, down from the previous month but up 28.7% from the same month in 2018. Cumulative imports total 2.017 mmt, up 78.6% from the same period in 2017-18 and 145% above the five-year average.
Canada's soybean exports were 257,007 mt in May, the largest volume shipped in five months or since December, with roughly 1/3 of this volume shipped to Bangladesh, a market that has been expanded since the previous crop year. Year to date, 4.255 mmt has been exported, equal to the volume shipped in the same period of 2017-18 and 14.7% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative shipments are ahead of the steady pace needed to reach the current AAFC target of 5.2 mmt, although largely due to aggressive shipments realized early in the crop year. Given the pace of shipments in 2019, crop year exports will fall short of the current AAFC target.
Canada's imports of soybeans slowed in the month of May to 43,887 mt, the smallest monthly volume imported this crop year. Cumulative imports since September total 908,141 mt, up 167% from the same period in 2017-18 while potentially on track to reach the 1 mmt import estimate forecast by AAFC.
Canada's canola oil exports totaled 259,275 mt in May, the lowest volume shipped in three months and very close to the volume shipped in the same month in 2018. Year-to-date exports totally 2.63 mmt, up 2.1% from the same period in 2017-18.
Canola meal exports were 406,146 mt in May, the largest monthly volume shipped in five months. Year-to-date exports total 3.839 mmt, up 1.6% from the same period in 2017-18.
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