The 2019 harvest of domestic bread cereals was sufficient to cover domestic consumption. A historically low volume of cereals were imported into Finland between July 2019 and June 2020. The main reason most likely is that Finland’s rye harvest in the autumn of 2019 was the largest in 30 years. Another reason is that wheat, barley and oat harvests were also relatively high.
“Finland exports more cereals than it imports. Years of crop failures are the only exceptions. Recently, two successive years of crop failures in 1987 and 1988 forced Finland to import more cereals than it exported”, says Anneli Partala, senior statistician at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Most barley used as feed
Although barley is the least common cereal on our dinner tables, it is the most important fodder cereal. Half of the 2019 harvest of 1.7 million tons barley was used to feed domestic animals. Oats and wheat are also significant fodder cereals, with roughly 40 per cent of their harvests being used as feed.
The role of oats as a bread cereal increasing
Finnish oats are increasingly used as food. The Finnish food industry has increased the use of oats from roughly 25,000 tons from crop year 1995-1996 up to 138,000 tons for crop year 2019-2020. Not all of this volume is consumed in Finland, as certain products processed from oats are exported. It is very likely that oats exported from Finland as grains are mainly used in food production.
One fifth of the total harvest volume exported
The domestic consumption of cereals is around three million tons annually. This means that cereals were left over for exports from the 2019 harvest of roughly 3.9 million tons. Oats accounted for more than half of total exports with its export volume of more than 400,000 tons. This marks the largest oat export volume in 17 years. More barley and wheat were also exported than during the past three harvest years.
Stocks even out harvest fluctuations
The storage of cereals on farms, in cereal industries and by cereal retailers evens out minor fluctuations in harvest levels. As the new crop year of 2020–2021 is approaching, larger cereal stock volumes than normal are necessary, as the uninterrupted rainfall means that not all cereals can be harvested. Estimates of cereal harvests have therefore decreased significantly in a few weeks.
Background to the statistics
Luke’s Statistical Services monitors the production, use, consumption and stocks of domestic cereals on the basis of available statistical data. The cereal balance sheet and statistics of the use of harvests on farms are prepared every crop year. The most recent statistics are estimates prepared for the crop year from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. The statistics are available on stat.luke.fi/en. The Finnish Cereal Committee also monitors the status of each crop year on a quarterly basis at its website.