Australian October feed barley exports dive

Liz Wells December 17, 2022

A crop of Commodus barley in early October at Buckleboo on South Australia’s Upper Eyre Peninsula.  Barley crops are running at least a fortnight late due to the mild and wet spring across all growing areas. Photo: Tim Larwood

AUSTRALIA exported 84,776 tonnes of malting barley, 162,216t of feed barley and 271,497t of sorghum in October, according to the latest export data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

While the malting figure was double the tonnage shipped in September, feed barley exports plunged 76pc from 662,421t and sorghum fell 31pc from 395,447t.

The three biggest destinations for Oct0ber-shipped malting barley were Mexico on 33,002t, Japan on 28,750t and South Africa on 15,000t.

On feed barley, Japan 0n 100,013t and Qatar on 55,125t were the only volume bulk customers, with Saudi Arabia notable in its absence.

China was once again the dominant volume customer on sorghum, taking 264,958t, or 98pc, of the volume shipped.

Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache described October barley exports as “dismal”.

“Supplies have essentially run out in Victoria and South Australia, and programs have ground to a halt,” Mr Roache said.

“Western Australia’s old-crop situation was also fairly tight on stocks following the record export program over the season.”

He said this was in “stark comparison” to wheat carry-out,  which sits at close to record levels, and is up 30pc from the 2020-21 season.

Mr Roach said malt demand remained strong, with a “very consistent demand profile” across the season.

“We expect this to continue as Australia continues to benefit indirectly from China malt, with competing origins at higher prices due to this demand being switched to their markets.

“High corn and feed prices in Canada are keeping pressure away from export markets and similarly, the French-EU feed market is strong due to last season drought and limited access to Ukraine product.

“This is seeing high prices and the retention of barley in Europe.

Mr Roache said these factors were supportive of barley overall, particularly malting.

“Also, the drought conditions in Argentina are causing a significant drop in its export potential, which is again supportive of the whole barley complex.”

Feed demand is well documented as lacking, with Saudi Arabia sitting back from the market and watching prices drop for the moment.

“We should see Saudi step back into the market shortly, with demand likely to improve at current prices based on barley’s spreads to other commodities.

“Despite all the doom and gloom on barley, we think barley has done a lot of work to become cheap locally into rations and also into Asia and the Middle East versus feed wheat and corn.”

Mr Roache said export data is are expected show a slow November and December, and will be restricted by the late crop.

“We expect to see significant increases each month and will get back to a full program from January forward, with an early prediction that total barley export demand will be slightly below last season.”

Sorghum exports remained strong for October.

“There was space on the stem available due to the seasonal downturn in the shipping of winter commodities.

Mr Roache said sorghum’s export surplus continues to surprise to the upside.

“That indicates a larger crop and lower domestic demand going together with the unquenchable Chinese appetite.”

Planting of 2023-24 sorghum in Queensland and New South Wales is well advanced thanks to ample moisture in soil profiles across all growing regions.

“The moisture profile is there for a large plant, which will lead to continued strong export numbers into China for the foreseeable future.”

MALTING Aug Sep Oct Tonnes
Ecuador 4992 0 0 4992
India 483 0 0 483
Japan 0 250 28750 29000
Mexico 61939 0 33002 94941
New Zealand 16000 0 0 16000
Peru 13268 0 0 13268
Philippines 1403 961 1747 4110
Singapore 5887 3663 4165 13714
South Africa 0 0 15000 15000
South Korea 669 1400 0 2069
Thailand 881 2655 2112 5647
Vietnam 549 32482 1 33031
TOTAL 106071 41410 84776 232257

Table 1: Australian malting barley exports for August, September and October 2022. Source: ABS

FEED Aug Sep Oct Tonnes
Ecuador 0 6000 0 6000
Hong Kong 0 12 0 12
Japan 61357 131166 100013 292536
Kuwait 13819 72613 0 86432
Malaysia 0 200 189 389
New Caledonia 392 307 318 1017
New Zealand 16000 7195 0 23195
Peru 0 16533 0 16533
Philippines 1869 50401 165 52434
Qatar 52500 0 55125 107625
Saudi Arabia 322659 335543 0 658202
Singapore 1 4 0 5
South Korea 400  0 921 1321
Taiwan 667 832 1962 3461
Thailand 0 0 21 21
United Arab Emirates 17437 39541 0 56978
Vietnam 8388 2075 3502 13965
TOTAL 495489 662421 162216 1320126

Table 2: Australian feed barley exports for August, September and October 2022. Source: ABS

SORGHUM Aug Sep Oct Tonnes
China 218946 298030 264958 781934
Japan 21 89010 42 89073
New Caledonia 0 100 0 100
Philippines 3102 2274 1477 6853
Taiwan 7316 6033 4546 17894
Vietnam 0 0 474 474
TOTAL 229385 395447 271497 896328

Table 3: Australian sorghum exports for August, September and October 2022. Source: ABS



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