Canada Markets

Ag Shipments a Drag on Canada's February Exports

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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Canada's trade deficit widened to $2.7 billion in February from the $1.9 billion reported in January. This was the 14th consecutive month that a trade deficit was reported, while is in the upper 25% of the range of deficits reported over this period.

Canada's total exports were .4% higher in February (measured in dollars), while Statistics Canada reports a record month-over-month decline in the export category of farm, fishing and intermediate food products of 17.2% to $2.4 billion, which they link to the lack of rail capacity experienced over the month. At $2.4 billion, monthly exports in this category were the lowest seen since October 2014. The dollar value of wheat exported fell by 41.6%, to $432.7 million, the lowest value reported in 14 months while the dollar value of canola exports fell to $365 million, down 40% and the lowest dollar value reported in 16 months.

The following is a look at miscellaneous ag export data.

Lentil exports were reported at 115,883 metric tons in February, down slightly from the previous month. Year-to-date, 856,774 mt of lentils have been exported, down 53% from the same seven month period in 2016/17 and 36.5% below the five-year average. Given that this period represents 58% of the August-through-July crop year, cumulative exports have covered 66% of the current AAFC export target of 1.3 million metric tons, which suggests that exports are ahead of the pace needed to reach this target.

The largest buyers this month were Mexico (15,947 mt), UAE (11,320 mt), Pakistan (13,620 mt) and Bangladesh (14,070 mt), while India was shipped just 2,673 mt, down sharply from the 31,755 mt shipped in the same month of 2017.

Dry pea exports were reported at 150,783 mt this month, down slightly from the previous month and down sharply from the 274,000 mt shipped in the same month last crop year. Year-to-date, 1.587 mmt has been shipped, down 36% from the same period last crop year and 16% below the five-year average. Cumulative shipments currently total 63.5% of the current AAFC crop year export demand estimate of 2.5 mmt, ahead of the pace needed to reach this target.

As has been the recent trend, close to two-thirds of the monthly volume was shipped to China, while the United States remains the second largest buyer. A reported 11,983 mt was shipped to India in February, down sharply from the 116,070 mt shipped to this country in the same month of 2017.

A reported 4,991 mt of chickpeas were shipped in February, the smallest monthly volume shipped this crop year, likely tied to the railway failures taking place during February. Year-to-date, 103,444 mt have been shipped, up 57% from the same period in 2016/17 and 116% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative shipments have achieved 74% of AAFC's 140,000 mt export target, well-ahead of the pace needed to reach this target with available supplies the limitation this crop year. Shipments to the U.S. accounted for 54% of the total volume in February, with movement to Pakistan a distant second.

Mustard exports in February totaled 11,022 mt, the largest monthly movement of mustard this crop year. Year-to-date, 65,870 mt of mustard has been exported, 1.2% behind the pace realized in the same period last crop year and 7% behind the five-year average. Cumulative exports total 55% of the current AAFC target of 120,000 mt, slightly behind the steady pace needed to reach this target.

February exports of canary seed totaled 11,026 mt, up from the previous month. Cumulative crop year exports of 80,717 mt are 4% higher than the same period in 2016/17 although are 6% behind the five-year average for this period. Given the current AAFC target of 150,000 mt, the current pace of movement is slightly behind the current pace needed to reach this volume.

Corn exports in February totaled 75,171 mt, up from January's volume with the largest share moving to the U.S. although movement resumed to Ireland following close to 200,000 mt shipped to this country in November/December. Cumulative movement totals 576,472 mt, up 22% from the same period last crop year and 34% higher than the five-year average for this period. Total movement accounts for only 33% of the current 1.75 mmt export target set by AAFC, which suggests that cumulative movement is behind the current pace needed to reach this goal with data covering 50% of the crop year.

Canada's corn imports in February totaled 112,131 mt, the highest in three months, while September-through-February imports are reported at 719,377 mt, 60% higher than the same period in 2016/17. One-third of this volume (37,975 mt) was shipped to Saskatchewan/Alberta, up 405% from February 2017, while the shipping delays created by the railways have no doubt delayed movement into the west in February.

Soybean exports in February totaled 259,063 mt, the smallest monthly volume shipped in five months. Cumulative movement totals 3.598 million metric tons in the first six months of the row crop crop year, up just .5% from the year ago pace. Cumulative exports have now reached 64.2% of the AAFC export estimate of 5.6 mmt, ahead of the steady pace needed to reach this level.

It is interesting to note that for the second month, movement to China was extremely low, with just 4,165 mt shipped in the two months of January and February. This compares to the 452,094 mt shipped in the same period of 2017.

Canola oil shipments totaled 238,018 mt in February, close to unchanged from the previous month, while year-to-date exports are 2.7% below year-ago levels. Canola meal exports are reported at 302,812 mt, the lowest monthly volume reported this crop year while cumulative exports are 6.6% behind year-ago levels. Transportation bottlenecks were also tied to the poor flow of product out of crushing plants over the past months.

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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at cliff.jamieson@dtn.com

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