For as long as I can remember Malcolm Bartholomaeus has been synonymous with the Australian grain industry.
He's been at the forefront of educating growers to better prepare for the changes that have evolved through the industry and a pioneer of interpreting markets at a grower level.
This has sometimes brought about criticism from sectors of the industry; however, Malcolm has been unwavering in trying to uphold transparency in the Australian grain marketplace. He has also been willing to listen to a "convince me" argument that may change his position. This is a testament to his character.
In the short time I had the opportunity to work in close proximity to Malcolm while at NZX Ltd, my external perceptions of him were confirmed. He is extremely knowledgeable on the market, a very effective communicator, and has a strong back-bone, all critical to what Malcolm has achieved.
These attributes had always garnered my respect from afar. After working with him my appreciation for Malcolm grew. I learned of his incredibly large tank when it comes to work effort, his passion for what he does, and the fact that he is a good, genuine bloke.
Last week Malcolm officially retired from the grain industry to retreat to a more moderated work-life balance, albeit he remains involved in a farm, local government, and several other ventures that I know of!
Bart, I hope you enjoy a well-earned retirement. We all thank you for your outstanding contribution and hope we can continually look to improve it as you always sought.
In terms of grain markets, Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures were lower over the past week. Grain markets are approaching a critical period for production of northern hemisphere crops which often sees heightened volatility in prices.
Demand for Aussie grain remains very strong from offshore markets given uncertainty in the Black Sea, talk of Chinese drought, dry conditions in the United States, and plenty of time remaining before northern hemisphere exporters have their crops in the bin.
Hence buyers here in Australia are vigorously trying to maximise supply chains to get Aussie grain to the world. As they get certainty on execution, many are active in accumulating grain and meeting many growers' target prices to get the business booked.
Localised grain demand can be unpredictable and price differences across port zones continue to be extreme in some cases. ASW1 wheat traded $380/t FIS Kwinana, $400/t track in South Australian ports and $385/t port equivalent at sites in Port Kembla.
Feed barley traded $400/t Port Adelaide, $363 Geelong and $344/t Newcastle as examples.
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