The Canadian economy faced rising imports and falling exports for all merchandise in December, a bad combination leading to a modest trade deficit of $137.5 million, the first monthly deficit in seven months and the third and smallest deficit reported in 2021.
Exports in the Farm, fishing and intermediate food products category fell for a second month to $3.7613 billion, the smallest volume in 16 months with the export of grain slowed by the flooding and track outages in British Columbia.
Here is a look at miscellaneous trade data for select crops and product, with focus on crops that are not covered in weekly Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) statistics.
Lentil exports in December totaled 135,882 metric tons (mt), up sharply from the previous month as rail movement started to recover from the November outage. November exports were the lowest reported since August 2017. By volume, the largest amount was shipped to India at 50,498 mt, the largest volume shipped to this destination in three months and well above the 15,302 mt shipped in December 2020. Cumulative exports total 785,372 mt, down 34.2% from the same period last crop year and 18% below the five-year average. The cumulative volume is slightly ahead of the pace needed to reach the current the current Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) forecast of 1.7 million metric tons (mmt).
Chickpea exports were reported at 6,481 mt in December, the lowest monthly volume shipped in 19 months. Roughly 54% of this volume was shipped to the U.S., with much smaller volumes shipped to several other countries. Cumulative exports total 47,031 mt, up 11.5% from the same period in 2020-21 while 13% below the five-year average. In January, AAFC increased its forecast of crop year exports by 10,000 mt to 160,000 mt, while cumulative exports account for only 29.4% of forecast exports, well behind the pace needed to reach this forecast.
December's dry pea exports totaled 79,796 mt, the lowest volume shipped since the month of July 2016. The largest volume was shipped to China at 43,182 mt, up sharply from the 18,234 mt shipped to China in the previous month. Cumulative exports during the first five months totals 996,975 mt, which is down 45.5% from the same period last crop year and down 39.3% from the five-year average. Cumulative exports have achieved 47.5% of the current 2.1 mmt export forecast released by AAFC, ahead of the steady pace needed to reach this forecast.
Canada's mustard exports totaled 11,673 mt, the largest monthly volume shipped since March 2019 as buyers scramble to cover demands. Cumulative exports total 44,703 mt, down only 1.6% from the same period last crop year and 5.4% below the five-year average, despite an estimated 49% drop in production year over year. Cumulative exports have reached 63.9% of the forecast 70,000-mt export forecast, well ahead of the pace needed to reach this volume.
Canada's canary seed exports totaled 24,987 mt in December, the largest monthly volume shipped since November 2014. A reported 30% of this volume was shipped to Belgium, while 25% was shipped to Mexico. Cumulative exports of 68,196 mt are up 3% from the previous crop year while 5.4% higher than the five-year average, despite forecast production being down 39% year over year. Exports have reached 56.8% of the 120,000 mt AAFC forecast for 2021-22, well ahead of the pace needed to reach this forecast.
Exports of soybeans totaled 689,993 mt in December, the smallest volume shipped in three months. Iran was the largest destination at 166,028 mt, while next was China at 113,088 mt, close to the largest monthly volume shipped to China since substantially larger volumes were shipped in the October-December period of 2018, totaling 3 mmt. During the first four months of the crop year, 2.733 mmt has been shipped, down 2.8% from the same period last crop year and 4.3% below the five-year average. Over the first four months, 65% of the current export forecast has been reached within the first third of the crop year. Exports are well ahead of the pace needed to reach this forecast.
A reported 30,679 mt of flax was shipped in December, down from the previous month while extending a crop year run of weak exports. The largest destination was Belgium at 11,176 mt, while 9,813 mt was shipped to the United States. A total of 5,826 mt was shipped to China, while the 21,013 mt shipped to China over the first five months compares to the three-year average at 73,948 mt. Total exports of 110,710 mt are down 54.2% from the same period last crop year and 41.7% below average. Cumulative exports account for 34.1% of the forecast exports of 325,000 mt, well-behind the pace needed to reach this forecast.
Corn exports totaled 264,562 mt in December, up from the previous month, with 137,502 mt shipped to the U.K, the largest destination. Exports over four months total 531,330 mt, 22.5% higher than the same period last crop year and 42.6% higher than the five-year average for this period. Cumulative exports have achieved 35.4% of the 1.5 mmt forecast set by the USDA, remaining on the steady pace needed to reach this forecast.
Corn imports into Western Canada continue to grow, with 713,944 mt imported in December, up for four consecutive months. A total of 1.7 mmt has been imported over the first four months, up from 517,976 mt imported during the same period last crop year (September to December) and the three-year average of 618,366 mt. The USDA increased their forecast for Canada's imports to 3.8 mmt, although this is a forecast that will likely be exceeded.
Canada shipped 220,563 mt of canola oil in December. During the first five months, 1.140 mmt has been exported, down 16% from last year and also 16% below the three-year average.
A reported 460,070 mt of soymeal was shipped in December, the largest monthly volume shipped in six months. A cumulative 1.985 mmt has been exported, down 7.7% from last year and 3% below the three-year average.
Canada's ethanol imports totaled 128 million liters in December, the lowest volume imported in four months. Ethanol imports in 2021 totaled 1.3 billion liters, up 7.7% from the previous year and 3.7% higher than the three-year average.
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