World: Barley production forecast to be the highest since 1994/95
World barley production in 2019/20 is projected to be the highest since 1994/1995 (at 155.835 mln tonnes). As a result, exportable supplies of barley are plentiful across the globe. In its November report, USDA forecasts world exports of barley in 2019/20 at 28.0 million tons, a 9 percent increase over last year and the third-highest on record. The worlds major exporters of barley (Argentina, Australia, the European Union, Russia, and Ukraine) comprise 83 percent of this trade.
As supply has expanded, barley is also seeing weaker global demand in the shorter term. Barley trade to both China and Saudi Arabia the worlds top two importers is down relative to the combined high of 18.1 million tonnes in 2014/15.
Ample supply and flagging demand from major buyers have had a collective weakening effect on feed barley prices. The major barley exporters bids have been averaged and compared to average corn bids1 for analytical purposes in the chart above. In the past year, the price gap between barley and corn has narrowed from over $80/tonne in September 2018 to nearly $20/tonne by October 2019.
Corn has seen its own price effects, driven by market uncertainty over U.S. crop size and weather premiums between May and August. The two grains nearly reached price parity in July but recovering market sentiments eased corn back down in the following months. In a world where exporters are seemingly fighting tooth and nail to get their corn into the hands of global customers, barley traders may continue to have difficulty finding alternative markets despite the increasing competitiveness and abundant availability of feed barley.
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