Saudi demand leaves 2-mo of Australian barley exports left: analyst

21 May 2021 | Masha Belikova

Australia will have used up its exportable barley surplus in the next two months after Saudi Arabian demand filled a void left by a punitive Chinese import tariff last year, delegates were told at the Black Sea Grain conference in Kyiv on Friday.

“We have had such big demand for barley that 90% gone of what we have to export is gone, so I would say that within two months we would not anymore for export… Saudi Arabia jumped in and replaced China completely,” Ole Houe, CEO of IKON Commodities said during the event.

Exports during the first four months of Australia’s marketing year from December to March were a solid 3.8 million mt.

Saudi Arabia took almost half that volume with 2.1 million mt, almost double the five-year average for what it would typically import over the same window.

China was previously Australia’s biggest barley export market, but a diplomatic spat spilled over into the market and saw Beijing impose a punitive import duty on the grain that effectively prohibited it from the market.

Australian state forecaster Abares estimated barley output in the 2020/21 marketing year at 12 million mt with exports at 9 million mt.