Wheat imports to grow 6%



The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in its annual grain and feed forecast report, has projected a nearly six percent increase in wheat imports into the country. It estimates imports to reach 900,000 metric tonnes, compared to the 850,000 metric tonnes achieved last year.

The USDA noted that the anticipated increase in wheat imports is driven by importers aiming to bolster their stocks in anticipation of heightened demand stemming from an improved economy.

Ghana imports more than US$230million worth of wheat annually, data from Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) has shown.

Similarly, the USDA is forecasting a marginal increase in total wheat consumption for 2024, reaching 850,000 metric tonnes. This reflects a one percent rise compared to last year’s consumption of 840,000 metric tonnes.

With the anticipated return to economic stability, the USDA affirmed that this stability would help restore wheat consumption to its initial growth trajectory, aligning with the upward trend driven by population growth.

“This is because wheat flour products are popular among Ghanaian consumers, especially by urban dwellers. Bread is a staple consumed by most households. The observed decline in wheat consumption in the preceding year was mainly due to the recent economic hardships,” the report stated.

Indeed, recent increases in utility tariffs, high inflation rates, and domestic currency depreciation have significantly reduced disposable income for a large portion of the population.

However, there is a positive trend as inflation continues to decline. At the end of February 2024, the year-on-year inflation rate dropped to 23.2 percent, significantly lower than the 52.8 percent recorded at the end of February 2023. Similarly, food inflation has followed suit, decreasing to 27 percent at the end of February 2024 compared to 59.1 percent during the same period last year.

“With bread remaining the major wheat flour product on the Ghanaian market, having bread for breakfast is the preferred choice and this is particularly so for those consumers who fall in the lower-income bracket. Reason the drop in inflation is laudable,” the report noted.

Concerningly, the report observed that despite a reduction in flour prices in response to the global decrease in wheat prices in 2023, the price of bread in the Ghanaian market continues to rise.

“Even though a 50kg bag of flour which was sold at GHȼ625 (US$48) in 2023, now selling at retail price of GHȼ600 (US$46), down by four percent, this has not affected the price of bread, which remains unchanged at GHȼ20 to GHȼ25 per 0.70kg loaf,” it said.

The major suppliers of wheat to Ghana comprise Canada, Turkey, France, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Latvia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and China. Canada usually dominates the market, accounting for more than half of the market share.

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