Each week, the USDA releases weekly commercial export sales for various commodities, including wheat. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) collects data from U.S. exporters on quantity, type, commodity class, shipment marketing year, and country of destination. Exporters are also required to report changes to past data such as order cancellations and destination changes.

For the benefit of overseas wheat buyers, US Wheat Associates (USW) publishes an updated trade sales report weekly on the USW website based on this USDA data. Each updated trade sales report shows the top 20 markets for total US wheat sales and a breakdown by wheat class and destination.

Data on commercial wheat sales in the United States is generated and reported by the Federal Grain Inspection Service when its teams inspect wheat and other grains before ships are loaded. USDA releases data on Thursday a week late.

Disturbance

Unfortunately, there was a disruption in the report last week. A new technical system was used to report export sales as usual on Thursday August 25th. However, after the report was released, traders questioned the content. The report has been taken offline and the content has been redacted. Reuters reported that the write-up took place after commodity markets closed for the day.

In a statement, the government said it had encountered “difficulties which affected the physical dissemination of export sales data as well as the quality of the data”.

The gold standard

Explaining the significance of the report, Reuters said: “The export sales report, which has a one week lag, is a key indicator for traders, input suppliers and farmers as it highlights recent demand for crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat at a time of tight global supply, and calculates US commodity sales to international customers such as China and Mexico.

Trade sales as a percentage of export forecasts can help exporters and buyers understand supply and describe the general market for a given product. Stressing the importance of the data being reported, Reuters described the weekly trade sales report as a “gold standard”. In fact, America’s early wheat leaders fought through the battle of the Soviet Union’s “great grain theft” and advocated for more transparency and information from the USDA to help farmers and their overseas customers, which contributed to the publication of weekly trade sales reports in 1976. The USDA also forecasts annual commodity exports in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report ( WASDE).

USW Commercial Sales Charts

The above USDA trade sales data 9 from August 18, 2022) is needed to help understand market movements. The USW develops and reports this data weekly as it is released by the USDA.

The USDA is now addressing technical issues, and as of August 30, the export reporting system was still down.

The USW will continue to report commercial sales, but only with data we know to be accurate.

By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst