Australia exports 1.3Mt Dec barley, sorghum pace slows

Liz Wells, February 14, 2024

AUSTRALIA exported 1,298,659 tonnes of barley and 10,944t of sorghum in December, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Feed barley shipped in December totalled 843,260t, up 60 percent from the 525,609t shipped in November.

China on 731,748t was the biggest market by far, taking 87pc of Australia’s December feed barley shipments.

Japan was the second-biggest for the month for feed barley, taking 103,858t, and Taiwan came in thrid on 1695t.

Malting barley shipments at 455,399t were up 31pc from the November total of 346,624t, with China on 431,544t the destination for 95pc of the total.

Japan on 19,575t and Singapore on 3109t were the second and third-biggest markets respectively for December-shipped malting barley.

As is usual at this time of year, sorghum exports dwindled to reflect a rundown in stocks ahead of new crop.

December sorghum shipments totalled 10,944t, with China the destination for 7841t.

Taiwan on 3005t and The Philippines on 98t were the only other two destinations for December-shipped sorghum.

Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said December barley exports lived up to high expectations.

“This was the largest month for multiple years, possibly since the Chinese tariffs, and equates to more than 20pc of our annual barley export figure for this season,” Mr Roache said.

“Within the number, we saw Chinese percentage creep higher, towards 90pc, and the malting percentage also increase, both largely per expectations.

“Going forward, we expect FAQ and malt to make up the majority of shipments. and China to continue to dominate the buying.”

Mr Roache said the pace of barley exports in January and February was expected to continue to impress, underpinned by the furious pace out of Western Australia and South Australia.

“Come March forward, WA and SA exports will slow significantly as they begin to run lower on stocks, leaving the majority of the Australian program to Victoria, which will likely be the only state with reasonable stocks for export in Q2, 3 and 4.”

Mr Roache said China’s imports and demand have far exceeded early predictions, with current pace suggesting total barley imports will dwarf USDA early predictions of around 8 million tonnes.

“That said, today we see significant economic concerns continuing to mount for China, which is seeing buyers sit back a bit, especially over the Chinese New Year period.”

Mr Roache said the recent lower prices have seen Australian feed barley close to competing with Northern Hemisphere offers into the Middle East, and some malting business has recently been done into South America.

“This is a bit strange considering early export pace, and it is unlikely that we need to price secondary country export demand over the longer term.”

Sorghum for December was limited by dwindling stocks, along with the Queensland and New South Wales transport and elevation focus shifting to wheat.

“We have seen the market correct around A$30-40/t lower since our New Year, with significant rains in northern NSW and Qld bolstering production capacity and lowering or deferring local feedgrain demand.

“Following the correction, Australian sorghum sits well priced versus US and should see continuing solid export demand from China to move the crop.”

Bahrain 41 43 0 84
China 539851 439793 731748 1711392
Hong Kong 12 12 0 24
Japan 99597 76757 103858 280211
Malaysia 171 162 344 677
New Caledonia 205 295 410 911
Papua New Guinea 0 22 0 22
Philippines 62621 548 1279 64448
South Korea 437 1287 1027 2751
Taiwan 1033 1366 1695 4094
Thailand 1574 1153 1574 4301
Vietnam 6794 4172 1325 12290
TOTAL 712335 525609 843260 2081204

Table 1: Australian feed barley exports for October, November and December 2023. Source: ABS

China 123878 246892 431544 802314
Ecuador 0 6850 0 6850
Japan 20 0 19575 19595
Indonesia 0 20 0 20
Mexico 33000 31500 0 64500
Peru 0 23950 0 23950
Philippines 1000 532 718 2250
Saudi Arabia 21 0 0 21
Singapore 3725 2885 3109 9719
South Africa 15750 31500 0 47250
Thailand 553 522 0 1075
Vietnam 35332 1972 453 37757
TOTAL 213279 346624 455399 1015301

Table 2: Australian malting barley exports for October, November and December 2023. Source: ABS

Bahrain 24 0 0 24
China 37433 47365 7841 92639
Japan 42 43 0 85
Philippines 1442 1861 98 3401
South Korea 0 235 0 235
Taiwan 606 2083 3005 5694
TOTAL 39547 51586 10944 102077

Table 3: Australian sorghum exports for October, November and December 2023. Source: ABS

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