Oct barley exports surge on China buying

Liz Wells December 13, 2023

Kym Reid in mid-October delivered the first load of the season, barley grown by Daniel Pridham, to the T-Ports Wallaroo team including classifier Shayla McKay and site supervisor Darren “Roy” Price. Photo: T-Ports

AUSTRALIA exported 926,675 tonnes of barley and 42,851t of sorghum in October, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Malting barley exports in October totalled 213,531t, down 29 percent from the 301,810t shipped in September.

Feed barley exports more than doubled to mark the opening month of the shipping year, and totaled 713,144t, up from 342,284t exported in September.

China on 540,251t was the destination for 76pc of Australia’s October feed barley exports, with Japan on 99,597t and The Philippines on 62,621t the other volume buyers.

Sorghum exports dived from 271,593t in September to reflect the rundown on available stocks.

Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said feed barley exports “exploded” in October.

“This was the first month when Chinese export demand was properly reflected on the shipping stem, and there were still some restrictions over total tonnage shipped,” Mr Roache said.

“That’s because many port zones were low on inventory, and were therefore unable to participate until new-crop harvest hits the bins.

“Additionally some other destination business was still being executed including The Philippines, which must be from prior to the China tariff removal as it doesn’t price well now.”

Mr Roache said there was more upside to come for monthly feed barley shipments.

“We expect to see shipments pushing up to 1 million tonnes (Mt) a month for November and December, and we already see around 500,000t on the stems for January, not including containers.”

Mr Roache said Australia looks like shipping an “astonishing” 4Mt in total from October 1 to January or February.

“That’s an amazing figure, considering a total export availability of around 5Mt for the Oct-Sep marketing year.

“To be anywhere near 80pc shipped on an average crop so early in the season is unprecedented.”

Mr Roache said the underlying factor was China’s “extremely strong” total barley demand, and well-priced Australian barley therefore being the largest supplier.

“China’s buying and shipping pace indicates demand is far deeper than the USDA estimate and many traders’ figures, but the program is becoming hard to ignore.

“Current business implies that China will buy at least 3-4Mt more than USDA estimate, which is a significant figure in the barley space.”

On malting, China on 123,878t was also the volume buyer, followed by Mexico on 35,332t and Vietnam on 33,000t.

“The strong Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam demand is great to see, but it is all likely to be business put on prior to China tariff removals and wouldn’t calculate so well on price today.

“With Chinese demand so strong and our significant freight advantage to China versus competing origins, I think we will see Australian competitiveness to South America, and Middle East / Africa drop off further over the medium term.

“Australia’s malting barley is priced very competitively versus Canadian and French, and will get all the business it needs, and probably more, on price today.”

On sorghum, Mr Roache said some excellent rain through most growing areas, and with more on the forecast, is expected to underpin a much bigger planted area than was initially forecast.

“This should see a robust export program continue.”

Mr Roache said China was showing significant demand for sorghum as well as barley.

“Shipments are running hot and US sorghum exports are far outpacing USDA yearly demand estimates.

“Marketing the crop doesn’t seem like an issue today.”

FEED Aug Sep Oct Tonnes
Bahrain 0 0 41 41
China 1501 158539 540251 700291
Hong Kong 9 0 12 21
Japan 166427 62558 99597 328582
Malaysia 175 1 171 347
New Caledonia 301 189 205 695
New Zealand 0 4950 0 4950
Papua New Guinea 25 0 0 25
Philippines 2922 55498 62621 121041
South Korea 491 22729 200 23420
Taiwan 3276 4053 1678 9007
Thailand 1377 32551 1574 35502
Vietnam 78732 1217 6794 86743
TOTAL 255237 342284 713144 1310665

Table 1: Australian feed barley exports for August, September and October 2023. Source: ABS

MALTING Aug Sep Oct Tonnes
China 54188 212877 123878 390943
Ecuador 0 7700 0 7700
Japan 0 0 20 20
Mexico 33000 33000 33000 99000
Peru 0 25000 0 25000
Philippines 932 1698 1232 3861
Saudi Arabia 0 0 21 21
Singapore 2163 2351 3745 8259
South Africa 0 16500 15750 32250
Thailand 531 527 553 1612
Vietnam 1673 2157 35332 39161
TOTAL 92486 301810 213531 607826

Table 2: Australian malting barley exports for August, September and October 2023. Source: ABS

SORGHUM Aug Sep Oct Tonnes
Bahrain 0 0 24 24
China 230959 255340 40433 526732
Japan 31585 10937 42 42564
Philippines 1521 1666 1746 4932
Taiwan 3990 3651 606 8247
TOTAL 268055 271593 42851 582499

Table 3: Australian sorghum exports for August, September and October 2023. Source: ABS


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