AUSTRALIA exported 774,340 tonnes of barley and 234,529t of sorghum in April, according to the latest export data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The malting total of 139,797t is up 15 per cent from the 121,452t shipped in March, while the feed total of 634,553t is up 3pc from the 614,055t shipped in March.
Sorghum exports more than doubled over the month to 234,529t, with China the destination for 94pc of the total.
Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said reported April malting barley shipments, plus 33,000t classified as feed barley to Canada, but with malt as its likely endpoint, make it the biggest month for malting exports in more than two years.
“Numbers like this take us back to pre-COVID and even pre-China tariff days.
“South America continues to consistently underpin the program, with Asian demand also consistent.”
Mr Roache said malting stocks in Australia are tight, with spreads holding and even extending versus feed barley, despite the already high flat-price levels.
“The tight stocks and the onset of the Canadian harvest shipping in Sep-Oct will likely see shipments trimmed to well below current levels, but demand is expected to stay strong overall.”
Mr Roache said April was another strong month for feed barley exports, and around average for the crop year thus far, but well below the peak number of around 950,000t seen in December.
“Shipping continues to all the usual suspects in Saudi, Japan, Jordan and other Middle East destinations, and we don’t expect a big change in the deck.
“Asian feed demand remains subdued and barley shipments relatively low, something we expect to continue, given continuing cheap feed wheat availability ex Australia, and the new relaxation of corn import tariffs in multiple demand countries.
Mr Roache said demand as expected to continue straight out to new crop, with Australia already well sold and the global market already transacting in the Sep-Oct period.
“The global market is not currently showing an inverse on price between old and new-crop periods, with Sep-Oct shipment into the Middle East recently trading around US$380/t FOB equivalent Australia.
“This is in the new-crop European-Black Sea shipping period and is abutting new-crop Aussie timing, which should give the market some confidence on new-crop pricing.
“Elevation margins are very strong right through, with lower new-crop grower prices triggering elevation margins of A$50-$90/t vs grower bids.
As expected, sorghum exports rebounded in April.
“Volumes are as we have been expecting, with more crop coming off and available to ship, along with an improvement in farm access and logistics as some areas dry up.”
April sorghum shipments were the largest since October 2021, and Mr Roache said volumes are expected to grow over coming next months as the Central Queensland harvest comes in and more space becomes available on the shipping stems for sorghum.
“From a demand perspective, nothing has changed; China is hungry for sorghum and we are solely a China market with approximately 95pc heading there.”
“We expect this to continue unless we see a political intervention in the Sorghum market, which we feel is unlikely today.
“Sorghum export margins continue to be market leading, and this will ensure sorghum access to bulk stems and availability of containers.”
Table 1: Australian malting barley exports for February, March and April 2022. Source: ABS
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Table 2: Australian feed barley exports for February, March and April 2022. Source: ABS
Table 1: Australian sorghum exports for February, March and April 2022. Source: ABS
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