FOUR cargoes of Australian durum have been booked to load for Italy in the opening months of the new-crop shipping year, according to trade sources.
The first three, totalling around 120,000 tonnes, will load in Newcastle in January and February, and a smaller later shipment is booked out of Victoria.
Australian Durum Company (ADC) principal Peter Howard said numbers for new-crop durum stacked up earlier in the year when the Australian dollar was low.
“The Italians have gone quiet, and Newcastle is booked out for January to March.
“There will be more demand post March into Italy…but a lot depends on the exchange rate.”
Mr Howard said ADC contracted early tonnage from irrigation areas, when the low Australian dollar put bid prices at up to AU$100 per tonne over current levels.
Growers have now become reluctant sellers.
“Most growers are sensible, and know about the danger of committing too much sold forward if we run into a wet harvest.”
Current indications are for good-quality durum from crops throughout NSW, Victoria and South Australia, and above-average yields in many districts.
“There’s no one we speak to that hasn’t got a good crop.”
Industry estimates in June put Australia’s new-crop durum export surplus at around 250,000t.
Mr Howard said that could now be as high at 300,000-350,000t.
Competition from Canada
North Africa is typically a customer of Canada, which is now harvesting its second-largest durum crop on record of close to 7 million tonnes, with quality said to be very good.
“That’s bearish for Australia.”
While India, Russia and Syria are all exporters of durum, Canada remains Australia’s biggest competition into African, Asian and European markets.
Grain Central understands the last bulk durum cargo out of Australia loaded in South Australia and NSW in early 2018, with drought in NSW stymieing any volume business in the current-crop and old-crop years.
Durum is usually the latest of the winter cereals, and depending on the weather in coming weeks, most of the NSW crop will be harvested from late November onwards.
According to Reuters, Tunisia last week bought two 25,000t optional-origin cargoes of durum at US$324-$325/t cost and freight for November-December shipment, too early for Australian new crop.
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