The global wheat harvest area is forecast to increase by 2.5%, to 224.2 million hectares (Mha), according to the International Grains Council (IGC).

Charlotte Garbutt, senior analyst - cereal and oilseed, HGCA, said the forecast marked the third consecutive year of growth in global wheat harvest area, “as the relative attractiveness of wheat prices against other crops maintains growers’ interest”.

However while the estimates are positive, it is still early days, and the events over the next 12 months, will have considerably more influence on the result than the last six, according to the HCGA’s report.

Record harvest areas are estimated for China (24.3Mha) and India (31.5Mha, which combined now harvest a quarter of the world’s wheat area.

Canada is expected to harvest a smaller area (9.9Mha) than the 10-year high achieved in 2013 (10.4Mha), while the EU is forecast to increase wheat harvest area by 0.4Mha to 26.1Mha, mainly at the expense of maize.

“The UK will make up the majority of the increase as the wheat area is thought to have returned to around 1.9 - 2Mha (1.6Mha in 2013) but other key EU countries also show an increase,” according to Garbutt. “A large EU crop would mean that should a UK surplus be realised, strong competition for export business may exist.”

According to figures from Defra last month, UK wheat supply and demand remained finely balanced, with lower demand by human and industrial consumers offsetting a decline in availability.

UK wheat availability is forecast at 15.737Mt, 1% lower than November’s estimate, mainly due to lower production, with UK wheat production reduced to 11.92Mt in the final Defra Crop Production Survey, 10% lower than in 2012/13. Wheat imports were estimated at 1.630Mt, slightly higher than the 1.615Mt forecast in November, but 45% lower than 2012/13.

Recent figures from Mintec also revealed that the price of milling wheat in the UK has recovered from the lows in August, in line with higher prices in the EU, which were pushed up by strong export demand. Recently, however, prices fell as a result of weakness in the global market.