AUSTRALIA exported 1,061,321 tonnes of feed barley, 21,979t of malting barley and 47,791t of sorghum in December, according to the latest export data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The feed barley figure is more than double the amount shipped in November, with Saudi Arabia the biggest customer by far on 534,716t, followed by Japan on 178,339t and Iran on 64,305t.
Malting shipments fell 89pc from the November total to reflect the rundown of stocks ahead of new crop, and South Africa on 15,000t followed by Singapore on 4883t, The Philippines on 1660t and Vietnam on 436t were the only customers for December-shipped malting.
Sorghum exports also tumbled to 47,791t in December, down 55pc from the November figure of 106,769t to reflect a rundown on stocks.
Buoyant demand from China, the destination for 45,708t, covered 96pc of shipments for December.
Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said December’s feed barley shipments have bounced after relatively October and November shipments out of South Australia and Victoria.
“Stocks were drawn down to a minimum and the situation was compounded by the later harvest, especially in Vic,” Mr Roache said.
“December shows an excellent rebound in SA, with Dec shipments seven times that of October and November.
“Western Australia continued to underpin the program, with some solid growth in exports as new-crop stocks added to the program where carryout was being shipped.
Shipments of malting barley were very low in December.
“This drop can be attributed to the quality worries around malting barley production, with the trade and grower unwilling to sell forward malt when December business was being sold.
“The market was eventually caught off guard by a far higher-than-expected malt selection across SA and the east coast, which was obvious in the price action.
“This higher selection corresponds with very good demand and should see malting barley shipments rebound considerably in the February forward period.
“Malting barley is well sold out on the curve, with sales on the books into the second half of 2023.”
Mr Roache said Saudi demand for feed barley continues to be fairly poor, with most expecting an unchanged total demand from the Middle East year on year.
“We are seeing some extra demand over recent times into Asia, but not enough to make up the Saudi shortfall versus a normal year.”
Positive signs from China
Hopes continue to be sparked that Australia can resume its exports of barley to China in the not-too-distant future.
“We have a record crop in the bin and the rallying market is starting to rely on the return of China demand more and more, which is understandable with the trade relations looking better over the past weeks.
“The China-access question will largely define where barley values go from here, with a simple calculation pointing to an approximately $50/t premium to current values on the table if we can sell the current China market prices.”
On sorghum, Mr Roache said wheat had crowded out stem space for what little current-crop sorghum remains available to ship.
“China is essentially buying it all, and with improving trade relations, this looks likely to continue longer term.
“China is also buying significant wheat ex Australia and will likely continue to be our largest wheat export home for this season.”
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Table 1: Australian exports of feed barley for October, November and December 2022. Source: ABS
Table 2: Australian exports of malting barley for October, November and December 2022. Source: ABS
Table 3: Australian exports of sorghum for October, November and December 2022. Source: ABS