Aus malt barley exports jump in Jan; feed, sorghum drop

Liz Wells, March 9, 2022

Australia is a significant exporter of malting barley and malt, with malting barley shipments in January almost quadruple the December figure. Photo: Barrett Burston Malting

AUSTRALIA exported 73,647 tonnes of malting barley, 549,451t of feed barley and 25,517t of sorghum in January, according to the latest export data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

While the malting figure is almost four times the 18,559t shipped in December, the feed barley and sorghum shipments were down 41 per cent from 938,295t and 62pc from 73,781t respectively shipped in December.

Vietnam was the biggest destination for January-shipped malting at 33,381t, and was followed closely by Mexico on 33,000t.

On feed barley, Saudi Arabia on 229,105t and Jordan on 126,000t were the biggest destinations by far, with the UAE on 57,829t in third place.

China on 23,330t accounted for 91pc of Australian sorghum exported in January.

Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said January’s barley exports were around 330,000t lower than the December total, and well below last year’s January-to-May average export pace.

“On the feed side, Middle East was unchanged month on month, while Asian demand dropped like a stone, down 350,000t to almost nothing.

“This switch was in line with our expectations…and was driven by importers favouring the freshly minted and relatively cheap Australian feed wheat production ex New South Wales and South Australia.”

Mr Roache said this trend was likely to continue, with strong Middle Eastern demand holding up the Australian numbers and limited participation from Asian consumers, who have been heavily into Aussie feed wheat since January.

Ukraine impact

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a leap in barley as well as wheat prices.

“We have seen the global barley market rally hard and fast, but perhaps without the visibility of the wheat, where futures are all over the news.

“Barley supply is not as skewed to Russian and Ukraine exports as wheat, but they are still the third and fourth-largest exporters and account for around 30pc of the major barley exporters’ activity.”

Ukraine and Russian barley is the cornerstone of Middle East and Mediterranean consumption, and Mr Roache said Ukraine has been a key price setter for imports to China since it closed to Australian barley.

“Relaxing of tensions and the reestablishment of shipping of Russia and Ukraine is the only solve for this issue, and the longer the interruption, the higher the price can go.”

In the last  12 days the global market has rallied around AUD 80/mt plus and pleasingly we are seeing a good portion of that reflected in the local bids, especially in SA and Vic markets. Elevation margins remain really strong, especially in WA and NSW which we estimate at close to $100/mt. Vic and SA elevation margins are sub $50/mt today.

Rumours continue that China will soon be back to buy Australian barley.

“These are so far unfounded, but the change in the supply landscape is so extreme that we do not rule anything out today.”

Malting rebounds

Malt exports rebounded in January, and Mr Roache said shipment levels should continue to be strong throughout the first half of 2022.

“Despite an early squeeze on price, the post-harvest realisation by the trade that there was enough malt to go round both locally and for export saw an increased appetite to sell cargo.

“Demand is there, and we should see the South and Central Americans continue to draw our stocks out with good prices and margins for the traders.”

Sorghum slides

Declining sorghum shipments reflect the run-out of old-crop stocks.

“China’s still buying it all, and will continue to do so unless we see a political-style punishment on sorghum too, which is hard to predict today.”

Mr Roache said shipment pace was expected to re-establish strongly and consistently as new-crop comes on line, with favourable margins available for sorghum shipped out of both NSW and Queensland.

“The size and spread of the crop over NSW this season should allow larger exports than we have seen in recent years.

“Availability of ample feed wheat and barley for local use should also encourage sorghum exports.”

Mr Roache said sorghum has seen little direct support from the Russia-Ukraine situation, with neither being a large producer or exporter.

“Indirectly, the interruption to Chinese corn and barley supply ex Ukraine should ensure continued robust demand into our number-one home.”

Indonesia 278 0 0 278
Japan 750 2002 750 3502
Mexico 33000 0 33000 66000
New Zealand 0 100 0 100
Peru 19436 9987 0 29423
Philippines 880 639 420 1939
Singapore 3562 2739 2392 8693
Thailand 649 2586 3704 6939
Vietnam 1876 506 33381 35763
TOTAL 60431 18559 73647 152637

Table 1: Australian malting barley exports  for November and December 2021 and January 2022. Source: ABS

Ecuador 7100 6847 0 13947
Hong Kong 0 0 12 12
India 435 0 495 930
Japan 120 160070 0 160190
Jordan 0 63000 126000 189000
Kuwait 40500 41233 40500 122233
Macau 0 4 0 4
Malaysia 0 196 0 196
Mexico 0 31576 0 31576
New Caledonia 271 195 192 658
New Zealand 0 5800 5000 10800
Oman 0 24767 0 24767
Papua New Guinea 100 100 0 200
Philippines 148727 68834 11193 228754
Qatar 0 60050 57000 117050
Saudi Arabia 317955 296130 229105 843190
Singapore 250 3 608 861
South Korea 1105 16889 872 18866
Spain 4 0 0 4
Taiwan 3148 4357 4757 12262
Thailand 0 66137 0 66137
UAE 23651 24200 57829 105680
Vietnam 53129 67907 15888 136924
TOTAL 596495 938295 549451 2084241

Table 2: Australian feed barley exports  for November and December 2021 and January 2022. Source: ABS

China 112842 72842 23330 209014
Japan 105 0 64 169
Malaysia 24 0 0 24
Philippines 1405 939 1730 4074
Saudi Arabia 0 0 0 0
South Korea 24 0 0 24
Taiwan 2000 0 393 2393
TOTAL 116400 73781 25517 215698

Table 3: Australian sorghum exports  for November and December 2021 and January 2022. Source: ABS



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