This year’s world wheat production could reach its second highest level on record, according to forecasts by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN.

It predicted production would hit 690 million tonnes, 1.4% down on the record harvest last year, in its quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, published yesterday (8 March).

The estimate is also well above the average seen over of the past five years.

“Although plantings have increased or are forecast to increase in many countries this year in response to continuing strong prices, a return to normal yields is expected in areas where record highs were achieved last year,” said the report.

The FAO also noted a firming of international cereal prices in recent weeks, due to “the tightening of current wheat supplies, and fears over the impact of severe cold weather in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States”.