Focus on Vietnam

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Vietnam is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of rice, but wheat consumption is growing. Imported grains and oilseeds play an important part in supplying the country’s big livestock sector.

There is no wheat produced in Vietnam. The International Grains Council (IGC) estimates its 2018-19 corn crop at 4.7 million tonnes, down from 4.9 million the year before.

The IGC puts Vietnam’s total grains imports in 2018-19 at 14.7 million tonnes, up from 13.7 million the year before. The figure includes imports of 4.4 million tonnes of wheat, down from 4.6 million the year before, and 10.2 million tonnes of corn, up from 9 million a year ago.

The IGC puts Vietnam’s 2018-19 rice production at 28.6 million tonnes, up from 27.9 million the year before. The IGC points out Vietnam’s main crop is harvested in the first half of the following year.

Vietnam’s rice exports in calendar 2019 are forecast at 6.7 million tonnes, compared with 6.5 million the year before, making it one of the world’s five major exporters.

In oilseeds, Vietnam produces soybeans, with the IGC putting the 2018-19 crop at 1.6 million tonnes, up from 1.5 million the year before. It is forecast to import 4.8 million tonnes of soymeal, compared with 4.7 million in 2017-18.

“Wheat is the second staple food, after rice, in Vietnam,” the USDA attaché in Hanoi explained in an annual report on the grains sector. “In large cities, people consume many wheat-based foods, and in recent years the demand for bread/baguette and other baked goods and wheat-based foods has risen.

“The changes reflect the increasing pace of urbanization and increasing familiarity of consumers with convenience foods. The growing presence of fast-food chains in Vietnam, such as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Burger King; western-style cafes; and, the presence of foreign convenience stores, such as Circle K, Aeon, 7-Eleven, and GS 25, are also key factors in boosting the use of wheat-based foods.”

The trend to consume wheat-based foods is largely limited to the big cities, but it is spreading.

“As a result, the consumption of milling wheat is still small but has seen slight and steady increases,” the attaché said. “This includes an increase in demand for top-quality wheat used for higher quality wheat-based products introduced by western food outlets.”

That means a steady increase in demand for U.S. wheat.

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