July Aus barley exports drop 18pc, sorghum down 27pc

Liz Wells, September 15, 2023

A train loads with sorghum at Malu on the Darling Downs bound for export via GrainCorp’s Fisherman Islands terminal in Brisbane. Photo: Rob Fry

AUSTRALIA exported 381,997 tonnes of barley and 283,917t of sorghum in July, according to the latest export data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The barley figure comprises 305,269t of feed, down 27 percent from the 417,575t shipped in June, while malting at 76,728t is up 60pc from the 47,807t exported in June.

July sorghum exports at 283,917t fell 27pc from the June total of 386,965t, with China continuing its run as the biggest customer by far.

Japan on 61,085t was the only other sizeable bulk sorghum customer for July.

On feed barley exports, Thailand was for the first time the largest-volume market with 210,782t, followed by Qatar on 52,263t, and New Zealand on 17,043t.

Mexico on 30,502t, Japan on 19,570t and Peru on 14,185t were the top three destinations for malting barley shipped in July.

Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said low feed barley stocks in South Australia and dry conditions biting in Queensland and northern New South Wales were major drivers of the slide in volume exported seen in July.

Also, a lack of selling into export channels has affected volume.

“Both the trade and growers have been holding stocks back in anticipation of a positive China announcement, and correctly so,” Mr Roache said.

“Export business has exploded, with significant bulk and container sales to China for the October-January period estimated to be well north of one million tonnes.

“Today we see a lack of available offers for the Oct-Nov period, with stocks and slots quickly exhausted by the notably strong China demand.

“We have seen the first bulk shipment leave WA and significant container volumes have also been packed, without any execution issues.

“Our expectation is for the program to continue to build without undue execution issue or interruption.

Mr Roache said strong demand from China was expected to continue, where relative price of barley is attractive for feed, and recent import pace suggests demand is higher than USDA and analysts have suggested.

“Argentina, Canada and Ukraine are all suffering from below-average production and reduced exports, leaving France and Australia to service the bulk of China demand.

“We also note locally that barley remains relatively cheap versus wheat in the south and Wagyu rations plus a lack of available fibre will keep demand well supported in the northern domestic feed market.

“A combination of Canada’s production losses, China’s re-entry, and quality issues in Europe are also continuing to force malt premiums higher, with some very high numbers in the market today.”

Sorghum exports continued their slide, with stocks running very low as dry conditions prevail in Australia’s sorghum-growing regions.

“We expect the program to continue to slow down in the coming months, even with current values doing their best to pull everything out of the balance sheet.

“US sorghum prices have been moving higher with China demand continuing.

“This is pushing demand pressure on to Australia when the market here has limited appetite to sell.

“I think we have seen the highs for sorghum export volumes for quite some time.”

FEED May June July Tonnes
Hong Kong 12 0 12 24
Japan 105203 155090 0 260293
Jordan 62073 0 0 62073
Malaysia 165 0 171 336
New Caledonia 0 213 154 366
New Zealand 0 0 17043 17043
Papua New Guinea 0 25 25 50
Philippines 1754 1645 2764 6163
Qatar 52500 22000 52263 126763
Saudi Arabia 126325 184000 0 310325
Singapore 1 4 0 5
South Korea 2032 661 1408 4101
Taiwan 924 1537 2174 4636
Thailand 67323 32571 210782 310675
UAE 27000 6000 14850 47850
Vietnam 89249 13829 3623 106701
TOTAL 534560 417575 305269 1257404

Table 1: Australian feed barley exports for May, June and July 2023. Source: ABS

MALTING May June July Tonnes
Ecuador 5000 0 7330 12330
Japan 0 0 19570 19570
Mexico 0 33000 30502 63502
Pakistan 0 595 398 993
Peru 17941 0 14185 32126
Philippines 1727 605 271 2604
Singapore 4116 2527 3233 9875
South Korea 0 9000 0 9000
Taiwan 0 0 498 498
Thailand 1078 960 487 2525
Vietnam 33863 1120 254 35237
TOTAL 63725 47807 76728 188259

Table 2: Australian malting barley exports for May, June and July 2023. Source: ABS

SORGHUM May June July Tonnes
China 434271 267405 218590 920266
Japan 0 26400 61085 87485
Kenya 0 60000 0 60000
New Zealand 0 12 0 12
Philippines 1585 771 993 3349
Sudan 0 30000 0 30000
Taiwan 4864 2302 3149 10316
Vietnam 176 75 100 351
TOTAL 440896 386965 283917 1111778

Table 3: Australian sorghum exports for May, June and July 2023. Source: ABS


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