Aus barley exports drop in Jan, sorghum surges

Liz Wells, March 13, 2024

AUSTRALIA exported 926,723 tonnes of barley and 116,866t of sorghum in January, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The feed barley component comprised 609,882t, down 27 percent from the December total of 838,451t.

China on 510,178t was once again the biggest market by far on 510,178t, followed by Japan on 90,990t and Vietnam on 3992t.

Malting barley exports in January totaled 316,841t, down 30pc from 455,149t shipped in December.

China was also the largest-volume destination for malting, taking 212,931t, followed by Mexico on 60,900t and Peru on 17,000t.

The sorghum figures has increased more than tenfold, with China on 113,159t the destination for 97pc of January sorghum exports, with Taiwan on 2022 and The Philippines on 1633t the only four-figure tonnage destinations.

“Barley’s ferocious December pace was unable to be maintained in January due to both lower demand and limited supply and allocation of export capacity,” Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said.

“Arrival time of cargo in China is an important element here, with the Dec and early Jan cargo able to be unloaded prior to the Chinese New Year holiday, but late Jan and Feb missing this window and therefore lacking demand over this long holiday period.”

Mr Roache said Oct-Jan barley exports continue to impress, with more than 65pc of estimated 2023-24 (Oct-Sep) exports shipped in the first four months of the season.

“Likewise, all origin Chinese imports of barley are very strong, with 6.5 million tonnes imported or to be imported in the October-to-March period.”

“This puts Chinese imports on pace for a 13Mt annual number versus approximatley 9Mt in 2022-23.”

Mr Roache said a sharp drop to around 300,000t was expected for Australia’s barley exports for February, with the low number driven partially by timing around the Chinese New Year.

“March exports look likely to recover back to around 650,000-700,000t, is a healthy number.

“It is expected that basis end April, Australia will have completed around 90pc of its annual exports, leaving very small amounts available for the Chinese buyer or the Australian domestic user.”

Mr Roache said barley was still seeing good demand from China for April-June, and Australian barley has remained well priced against its competitors into our main market.

“China’s share of Australian exports at approximately 78pc remains a bit lower than expected, with secondary demand holding only-Australian supply better than expected; that’s another indication that we remain well priced versus our competitors.”

Mr Roache said the state of the barley crop in France, one of Australia’s main competitors in China, was one to watch, with winter-crop ratings currently poor after a wet and late plant.

“Only 69pc of French winter barley crops are in good-to-excellent condition versus 92pc last season.

“Spring barley planting is very slow due to wet conditions, sitting at 28pc planted versus 71pc last season and more than 60pc behind average pace.

“This is particularly important to China’s malting-barley supply.”

On sorghum, volume increased ahead of new-crop availability with improved production prospects thanks to well-timed rain in many growing areas since December.

“Containers are currently doing the majority of volume, with only a couple of bulk vessels on stems.

“It’s likely we will continue to see volumes tick higher, with bulk exports expected to increase over March-May.

“Good demand is being reported in last weeks, with multiple bulk vessels booked, along with consistent container business.

“Expect more of the same as the year progresses.”


FEED Nov Dec Jan Tonnes
Bahrain 43 0 22 65
China 439793 727439 510178 1677411
Hong Kong 12 0 12 24
Japan 76757 103858 90990 271605
Malaysia 162 344 177 683
New Caledonia 295 410 472 1178
Papua New Guinea 22 0 50 72
Philippines 548 1279 755 2582
South Korea 1287 1027 558 2872
Taiwan 1366 1195 1438 3999
Thailand 1153 1574 1237 3964
Vietnam 4172 1325 3992 9488
TOTAL 525609 838451 609882 1973942

Table 1: Australian feed barley exports for November and December 2023 and January 2024. Source: ABS

MALTING Nov Dec Jan Tonnes
China 246892 431544 212931 891367
Ecuador 6850 0 6301 13151
Japan 0 19575 0 19575
Indonesia 20 0 0 20
Mexico 31500 0 60900 92400
Peru 23950 0 17000 40950
Philippines 532 718 709 1959
Singapore 2885 2859 3151 8895
South Africa 31500 0 0 31500
South Korea 0 0 12600 12600
Thailand 522 0 0 522
Vietnam 1972 453 3250 5674
TOTAL 346624 455149 316841 1118613

Table 2: Australian malting barley exports for November and December 2023 and January 2024. Source: ABS

SORGHUM Nov Dec Jan Tonnes
China 47365 6344 113159 166868
Japan 43 0 0 43
Philippines 1861 0 1633 3494
Singapore 0 0 2 2
South Korea 235 0 0 235
Taiwan 2083 3005 2022 7109
Vietnam 0 0 50 50
TOTAL 51586 9349 116866 177801

Table 3: Australian sorghum exports for November and December 2023 and January 2024. Source: ABS


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