The Canadian Grain Commission has reported licensed exports of barley to China in March of 141,300 metric tons (mt), or 82.3% of the total exports for the month. Cumulative exports as of March total 2.2469 million metric tons (mmt), up 27.8% from the same period in 2021-22, while exports to China make up 91% of this volume.
Barley exports face a seasonal slowing of movement in the final weeks and months of the crop year. The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) reports that exports averaged 271,580 mt during the final 11 shipping weeks of the year over the past five years, or from week 42 to week 52, while were below 200,000 mt in three of the five years (2017-18 through 2021-22).
In mid-April, media reported that China and Australia have reached an agreement that would end a years-old tariff that has kept Australian barley from the Chinese market. On May 19, China-briefing.com released an update that indicates that Australian timber will also resume movement into China effective immediately. The update also indicates that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia is making plans to potentially visit Beijing.
While it appears that Australia would quickly recoup markets lost, the International Grains Council reported in May that there is news that China is reviewing import duties and this could take longer than expected.
Improved Australian trade relations along with lower-priced corn will make Canadian barley less competitive in export markets. The May 19 December corn close was below $5/bushel (bu) for the first time since Oct. 18, 2021.
Meanwhile, the International Grains Council is also reporting that barley trade in 2023-24 will be down for a third year and 5% below average in 2023-34, with China expected to import fewer tons along with Saudi Arabia and the European Union.
Watch for opportunities to move old-crop barley as southern Alberta once again becomes the focal point for the barley market. As we reach the end of seeding, hopefully blessed with ample moisture, producers will turn their attention to cleaning out bins.
A Saskatchewan broker reports feed barley ranging from $333/mt to $367.44/mt picked up on farm in Saskatchewan this week ($7.25/bu to $8/bu), while the Saskatchewan government reports $337.92/mt or $7.36/bu delivered to the elevator. The same broker points to new crop at $275.58/mt to $298.55/bu ($6/bu to $6.50/bu).
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