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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with www.e-malt.com
29 July, 2020

Barley news Thailand & Australia: Thailand forecast to buy 600,000 tonnes of Australian barley

Thailand is forecast to buy 600,000 tonnes of Australian barley this year in a market which has the potential to reach 1 million tonnes (Mt), according to CBH Group trading manager Drew Robertson, Grain Central reported on July 28.

Speaking at the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) barley forum on July 27, Mr Robertson said Thailand’s tariff system was currently friendly to feed barley, and competitive pricing was making Australia a desirable supplier.

“Feed barley is displacing feed wheat into Thailand,” Mr Robertson said.

“For every cargo of feed wheat they buy, they have to buy three cargoes of domestic corn.

“That policy is not on barley, so they can buy and consume barley as a result of that without having to make the extra purchases of corn.

“Certainly if barley is priced at about a A$15-A$20/tonne discount to feed wheat on a landed Thailand basis, then barley has probably displaced feed wheat into those rations.”

In the Australian barley-marketing year to date, Mr Robertson said Thailand had purchased 430,000 tonnes, and could end up taking around 600,000t before the new marketing year started.

Australia’s exports of barley to Thailand have risen from 22,000 tonnes in 2016-17.

“Thailand could be up to 1 million tonnes (Mt) next year.”

While Thailand’s domestic corn market gets considerable support from its government, the country has also been a volume importer of corn.

US Grains Council data said Thailand imported 700,000 tonnes of corn and 147,000 tonnes of barley in 2017-18.

“It’s a question in Thailand of how competitive barley is with feed wheat.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics export data indicates Australia has shipped 479,011 tonnes of feed barley to Thailand from November to May.

Western Australia produces most of Australia’s barley, and its relatively small stockfeed sector makes it Australia’s major exporter.

GIWA hosts annual barley forums, and the July 27 event looked at the impact of China’s barley tariff on Australia’s barley market, and the state of play for alternative markets.

Other speakers included Boortmalt Asia Pacific regional merchandising manager Simon Robertson, CBH chief marketing and trading officer Jason Craig, and Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) barley technical manager Mary Raynes.

All agreed nothing would replace China in volume, but the competitive pricing of Australian feed barley, the relatively small premium for malting, and markets including Brazil, India, Indonesia and Vietnam were developing, or had potential to take significant tonnage from next year.

Ms Raynes said India had significant potential as a malting market, and Vietnam as Asia’s third-biggest beer market already imported 60 per cent of its barley from Australia, with growth in the feed sector seen as having the potential to boost demand.

Ms Raynes said Vietnam’s demand for barley had increased markedly in the past decade, and could grow further as its feed sector industrialised.

“We can continue to strengthen our existing relationships, deliver barley of desirable qualities, and advocate for barley inclusion in feed rations.”

Ms Raynes and Drew Robertson said the Indonesian market also presented significant opportunities for growth now the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) was in place.

The agreement allows Australia to export 500,000t of feedgrain to Indonesia for the marketing year which started 5 July, with 5pc per annum increases from next year.

“Indonesia has prospects for feed barley,” Ms Raynes said.

Brazil’s growing appetite for beer meant opportunities in this malting market supplied primarily by Argentina were being investigated.

“We’re working with industry to come up with other market options for our grain.”

Simon Robertson also mentioned Brazil as a potential market with underlying growth, particularly in malt-heavy premium beers.

“Typically South America is quite reliable in barley production.

“It is an opportunity on malting barley.”

While Australia is on track to produce around 10Mt of barley this year, its typical crop size is 9Mt, with domestic consumption at around 3Mt and split roughly 50/50 between malting and feed, as are exports totalling 6Mt.

China has been Australia’s biggest export by far in recent years.

Its imposition in May of a barley tariff has throttled imports of Australian barley down to the occasional cargo of malting which appears to be used to produce malt for reexport, and is therefore tariff exempt.

However, a massive Australian barley shipment program to China ahead of the half-expected tariff means has taken an estimated 57pc of Australia’s 2019-20 total barley exports, with Thailand in second position on 21pc.

In year-to-date export figures, China is expected to buy 37pc of Australia’s 2019-20 feed barley exports.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest barley importer, and buys 7-7.5Mt per annum of feed.

To cover its drought deficit, eastern Australia has bought a total of around 1.3Mt of barley from WA and South Australia in 2019-20, which has greatly reduced the export surplus from both states.

However, a return to more normal conditions in the east will see WA and SA looking to export more feed in 2020-21, and Saudi as a long-term Australian customer may well buy considerable tonnage of Australian barley next year.


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