September 9, 2019 / 11:31 AM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-Strategie Grains cuts EU rapeseed crop estimate, ups imports

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PARIS, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Consultancy Strategie Grains cut its estimate of the European Union’s rapeseed harvest to a 13-year low on Monday, while increasing its forecast for EU imports of the oilseed this season to a record high.

In a monthly oilseed report, the firm lowered its EU rapeseed production forecast to 17.05 million tonnes from 17.4 million previously. Both levels would be the lowest since 2006.

The latest projection is also down nearly 15% from an estimated 2018 crop of 19.95 million tonnes.

Strategie Grains increased its forecast for EU rapeseed imports in the 2019/20 season to a record level as it saw demand for the EU’s main oilseed crop remaining high.

“With production down by almost 3 million tonnes and industrial demand remaining robust despite the lower availabilities, EU imports will reach a record level of 6.1 million tonnes this year, with record flows from Ukraine and Canada,” the consultancy said.

The latest import forecast compares with Strategie Grains’ projection of 5.8 million tonnes a month earlier - which would also have been a record high - and an estimated 4.3 million imported by the EU last season.

Other analysts are also expecting a 13-year low for EU rapeseed production and a surge in imports after poor weather and insect damage hit this year’s crop in the 28-country bloc.

The high import needs of the EU should boost prices in the bloc, Strategie Grains said.

“EU prices are expected to increase sharply in the next few months and remain much higher than world prices That price is bound to be maintained throughout the year so that third-country imports will be able ... to meet the EU demand.”

Spot EU rapeseed futures on Euronext have been trading at one-year highs since late August, with a latest peak at 385.25 euros ($424.85) a tonne on Thursday.

European rapeseed prices may also be supported by tightening supply on vegetable oil markets, partly due to the EU imposing tariffs on Indonesian biodiesel, Strategie Grains added.

Among major EU rapeseed producers, the firm cut its estimate of the 2019 German harvest to 2.90 million tonnes, which would be the lowest since 1997, and trimmed French output to 3.55 million tonnes, the weakest level since 2003. ($1 = 0.9068 euros) (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Edmund Blair and Mark Potter)

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