AUSTRALIA exported 418,075t of feed barley, 47,807t of malting barley and 395,370t of sorghum in June, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
On feed, the June figure was down 22 percent from the May total of 534,560t, and Saudi Arabia on 184,000t, Japan on 155,090t and Thailand on 32,571t were the three biggest markets.
The malting figure represents a drop of 25pc from the May total of 63,725t, and Mexico on 33,000t, South Korea on 9000t, and Singapore on 2527t were the major markets for June shipments.
On sorghum, volume has dropped 10pc from the May peak of 440,921t.
China on 275,462t accounted for 70pc of June shipments, with 60,000t to Kenya and 30,000t to Sudan the second and third-biggest markets.
Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said the feed barley shipment figure for June shows a continued drift lower in volume to the lowest level seen since January.
Barley exports continued to drift lower for June, with feed barley volume the lightest since January 2023 and malting the lowest since February.
“That was back when everyone thought there was no malt quality around,” Mr Roache said.
“The story of the slow slowdown on exports is the same as last month and the month prior; Saudi demand is soft, with a lack of fresh business reported for a long time.
“Russian barley remains extremely cheap, with prices of US$180-200/t fob the norm over the past few months, which has also undermined the demand profile of Aussie feed.
“From a malting standpoint, we are running low on stocks here and seasonally the demand shifts to European producers who are just out of harvest and more aggressively priced, slowing our exports.
“Notably though, EU quality is reportedly a mess, with pinching from a dry finish and more recently sprouting from a wet harvest across many areas taking its toll on selection.”
Sales surge as China reopens
Mr Roache said Australian growers and traders who have held on to barley should benefit from the big news of last Friday that China was on the weekend removing its tariffs on Australian barley.
“From an export perspective, everything will change quickly, and China will become the focus of the market.
“Today we see strong demand from China for bulk and container shipments, both for immediate shipment and the new-crop period.
“We estimate that at least 250,000t has already been sold in bulk, plus significant container business.
“Export margins for barley are now leading other commodities, which will see elevation capacity allocated to barley and good replacement bids continue in most areas.”
Sorghum exports continued strongly with China continuing to underpin the major volume and interestingly Sudan and Kenya showing up for a significant volume of 90,000t in a month.
“Sorghum in Africa has significant human consumption demand, with many staples including porridges and flatbreads made from the grain and flour.
“Sorghum is the primary source of calories for hundreds of millions of African people.
Mr Roache said sorghum exports were expected to continue strongly into Aug-Sep before stocks start to run low and the shipping program switches to new-crop wheat.
“China will continue to lead the way on demand, despite the heady highs on price of earlier in the year being behind us.
“For Africa, we should continue to see this demand, which is indicative of local shortages and is likely to be filled at least in part from Australia.”
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Table 1: Australian feed barley exports from 1 October 2022 to 30 June 2023. Source: ABS
Table 2: Australian malting barley exports from 1 October 2022 to 30 June 2023. Source: ABS
Table 3: Australian sorghum exports from 1 October 2022 to 30 June 2023. Source: ABS
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