Canada Markets

Statistics Canada's October Merchandise Trade

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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At 793,728 mt, Canadian lentil exports over the first three months of the crop year are the highest in five years, while slightly higher than the five-year average. (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

Statistics Canada reports Canada's trade deficit with the world unchanged in October from the previous month at $3.8 billion, still close to the largest deficit reported in six months and still 110% larger than the February pre-pandemic deficit.

There was no mention of agriculture trade in the monthly commentary. Exports reported in the broad Farm, fishing and intermediate food products are shown at $3.850 billion, up 1.9% in October and represents a record for monthly exports measured in dollars.

On a monthly basis, we look at export data as it relates to a number of crops and products.

Lentil exports in October totaled 358,048 metric tons, with the largest volume or 37% of the volume destined for India, while a further 16% was shipped to Turkey. This was the largest monthly volume shipped in six months, while the largest October movement in four years. As seen on the attached chart, cumulative shipments over the first three months of the 2020-21 crop year are at 793,728 mt, up 53% from the same period last crop year, while movement is ahead of the pace needed to reach the current 2.9 million metric ton export forecast set by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a target that was increased by 100,000 mt this month. Statistics Canada revised lower its estimate of 2020 production by close to 200,000 mt, a move that may have a bearing on the current export forecast.

Canada exported 432,793 mt of dry peas in October, down from the previous month but the largest October movement in four years. China maintained that country's grip on Canadian exports, with 78% of the volume shipped to China, down from 86% of the 763,192 mt shipped last month. Shipments over the first quarter are up 23.7% from last year and 18.3% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative shipments represent 34.8% of AAFC's current 3.8 mmt export forecast, which is modestly higher than the volume exported in 2019-20.

Shipments of chickpeas totaled 7,224 mt in October, down from the previous month and the smallest Oct. volume shipped in four years. The United States and Pakistan were shipped close to equal volumes this month, accounting for 57% of total shipments. Cumulative shipments are up 13.7% from last crop year while represent 89% of the five-year average at 23,758 mt, just slightly behind the steady pace needed to reach the current AAFC forecast of 105,000 mt. On Dec. 3, Statistics Canada revised its forecast for 2020 production by 25,173 mt lower than released in September, although this should not have implications for exports due to an expected year-over-year increase in ending stocks.

Statistics Canada reported 12,425 mt of canary seed exported in October, the largest volume shipped in five months while the smallest October volume shipped in three years. Cumulative exports are 81.6% of 2019-20 levels and 2.8% above average, while are currently behind the steady pace needed to reach the current export forecast of 155,000 mt. Statistics Canada revised higher its estimate for 2020 production this week, so supplies will not be a limiting factor in achieving this target.

Mustard exports totaled 9,207 mt in October, the highest volume shipped in the three months of this crop year, although the smallest October volume shipped in five years. Cumulative exports total 25,135 mt, representing 90.6% of the same period in 2019-20 and 90.8% of the five-year average. This volume has reached 21.9% of the current 115,000 mt export forecast from AAFC, while behind the steady pace needed to reach this volume.

Flax shipments in October total 33,154 mt, the second-highest monthly volume shipped this crop year and the largest Oct. movement in three years. Volumes shipped to the U.S. and to China rose sharply this month, with these two destinations shipped 68% of the total volume. Cumulative volumes of 88,524 mt are up 194.6% from the same period last crop year, are 11.8% higher than the five-year average, although remain behind the steady pace needed to reach the current 450,000 mt export forecast. Statistics Canada's November production estimates saw an upward revision of 25,800 mt which will add to the expected rise in ending stocks.

October soybean shipments totaled 811,828 mt, the largest monthly volume shipped since November 2019. The largest volume reported was shipped to the Netherlands, accounting for 21.8% of the total volume, while a similar volume of 20.4% of the total volume was shipped to Iran. Over the first two months of the row crop crop year, 1.016 mmt of soybeans have been exported, up 195% from the same period in 2019-20, while 16.2% higher than the five-year average for this period. This cumulative volume has reached 24.2% of the current export demand forecast of 4.2 mmt, well-ahead of the pace needed to reach this forecast.

This week's Statistics Canada production estimates included an upward revision for Canada's soybean production of 221,900 mt to 6.571 mmt. While the current AAFC forecast points to only a modest decline in 2020-21 ending stocks from the record 721,000 mt reached in 2019-20, the current global demand and the current pace of movement is signaling the potential for higher exports than currently forecast and a return to tight stocks.

Canada's corn exports in October totaled 53,055 mt, the largest in three months, with 59% of this volume shipped to Ireland and a further 41% shipped to the U.S. This is the largest volume shipped in three months and the largest October movement achieved in eight years. Cumulative crop year exports over the two-month period total 76,623 mt, up 90.2% from last year and 6.9% higher than the five-year average. AAFC reduced its forecast for Canada's corn exports by 150,000 mt to 850,000 mt in its November report, while the current pace of movement is well-behind the steady pace needed to reach this forecast.

Canola oil exports totaled 264,379 mt in the month of October, up from the previous month, with China taking the majority of the crude oil and the majority of the refined oil flowing to the U.S. Cumulative exports of 787,474 mt are 93.7% of the volume shipped in the same period in 2019-20 and equal to the three-year average. So far this crop year, 1.261 mmt of meal has been exported 7% higher than last year and 13.5% higher than the three-year average.

Canada's ethanol imports are reported at 127 million litres, up 9.5% from last month and the highest imports seen in three years, while is in the upper end of the range of historic monthly volumes imported.


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