AUSTRALIA exported 599,767 tonnes of barley and 452,182t of sorghum in May, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Barley comprised 535,102t of feed and 64,665t of malting.
The feed barley figure is up 14 percent from the 469,640t shipped in April, while the malting figure of 64,665t is down 48pc from the April total of 123,223t.
Sorghum had a huge month, with 452,182t shipped in May, up 25pc from the 361,058t exported in April.
The three largest-volume feed barley markets were Saudi Arabia on 126,325t, Japan on 105,203t, while China on 445,641t accounted for 99pc of sorghum exports.
The major malting markets for May-shipped barley were Vietnam on 34,803t, Peru on 17,941t and Ecuador on 5000t.
Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said feed barley exports have continued at a consistent pace.
“Overall, the commodity-switchable Asian feed demand for barley is trending weaker as we continue to see Brazilian corn and Black Sea feed wheat compete well on price with Australian barley and low-grade wheat,” Mr Roache said.
“The less-switchable Middle Eastern demand for barley is continuing to support shipments, but we have noted very poor demand for barley into Middle East, especially Saudi, for the past few months.
“This is a flag that we will see Middle Eastern barley demand drop into the back end of the year, with shipments from Australia likely to be heavily affected.
“This is due to very competitive pricing from Russia, which is currently offering barley at A$50-$60/t equivalent cheaper than the Australian market.”
Hopes are high that the Chinese market may reopen to Australian barley.
“China is needing an extra month to finish its review of the Australian tariffs, and has called for submissions today.
“That makes August 11 a very important date for Australian barley growers.
“This extension may seem like bad news, but the underlying narrative continues to be positive and the Chinese have openly acknowledged that the tariffs do not have a positive overall effect for them.
“We continue to expect a positive outcome for China trade.”
Malting barley exports have have shrunk month on month to reflect the normal slowdown in the program ex Australia as stocks drop and demand switches to Northern Hemisphere new crop.
“So far, European yields and quality are disappointing versus expectation due to the tough finish across Europe.
“We expect malting demand to remain buoyant longer term, and we will see this flow into Australian shipments into the new-crop period.
On sorghum, May shipments were the highest monthly figure seen for some years.
“This reflects the better crop, and very strong Chinese demand, and is a pointer to the excellent export margins that sorghum has been providing.
“We will likely see another big month in June, but expect things to slow considerably in July and August.”
Prices for sorghum into China have trended lower in recent months on competition from other grains including US sorghum.
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Table 1: Australian feed barley exports for March, April and May 2023. Source: ABS
Table 2: Australian malting barley exports for March, April and May 2023. Source: ABS
Table 3: Australian sorghum exports for March, April and May 2023. Source: ABS
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