Barley the crop most reliant on China

Barley the grain commodity most reliant on sales to China

Barley is the grain commodity most exposed to the Chinese market according to a recent Rabobank report.

Barley is the grain commodity most exposed to the Chinese market according to a recent Rabobank report.


A Rural Bank report found that exposure to China among major grain crops varied massively, with barley the most reliant on Chinese sales.


THE FALLOUT from a Chinese ban on exports varies markedly across the various classes of grain commodity.

A Rural Bank report, investigating China's share of Australian agriculture exports in light of the ongoing trade tension, found the barley industry, which has suffered from Chinese tariffs implemented in May, is the most exposed to China, with 66 per cent of its export value coming from the Asian giant.

In contrast, a similar ban would barely cause a ripple in the pulse industry.

Rural Bank found just 2 per cent of export value and just 1pc of export volume in the pulse sector, which is heavily geared towards subcontinental and Middle Eastern markets, went to China.

China's decision to ban Australia barley was not without cost to its own industry.

Rural Bank found Australia supplied 21 per cent of China's barley by volume and 17pc by value.

Wheat and canola are also relatively unexposed to China, with Chinese sales account for 8 and 6 per cent of value respectively.

Of the major agricultural exports that Rural Bank said had been or could be under threat of suspension from the Chinese market barley was the only grain in the most severely impacted category, along with rock lobster and wine.

Wool is the most Sino-centric of our major agriculture sectors, with 75 per cent of Australia's export value going to China, however there has been no speculation of a ban in that industry.

The Australian grain industry has been fortunate the barley tariffs come at a time with ample competition for grain globally.

"Prices for feed barley, at around $225 a tonne port, are not bad in historical terms," said Tobin Gorey, Commonwealth Bank analyst.

China normally buys more malt than feed barley, but this year the premium for malt is small due to the large volumes being grown.

Mr Gorey said the strong world demand for feed grain, spurred by China's big buy-up of commodities such as corn and soy beans, meant the full impact of the barley tariffs were not being felt.

"We've seen the strong demand from China divert grain there, meaning we have been able to do sales elsewhere," he said.

Rural Bank identified Saudi Arabia, Japan and Thailand as possible new homes for Australian barley that normally went to China.

Saudi Arabia is buying up big in the barley space, and Australia has been a beneficiary, winning a 730,000 tonne contract to supply Saudi Arabia last week.

Andrew Weidemann, Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman said having an industry with two thirds of the value dependent on a single market was not sustainable long-term.

"The over-dependence on China is why we as an industry are asking for funds to help develop those new markets for barley," Mr Weidemann said.

"We want to spread our sales evenly and to do this we have to put work into market intelligence and development to identify the opportunities and then work to open the markets up."

Read the full Rural Bank report here


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