grain-export© Tim Scrivener

Farm assured barley produced by UK growers will soon have access to supply China, which is thought to have an annual barley requirement of 6m tonnes.

The UK will join a number of other EU member states already with access for the grain, including France, Denmark and Finland, as well as Australia.

The access is the culmination of five years of work by a group of 30 organisations lead by AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds and includes Red Tractor, AIC, Gafta, Scottish Quality Crops, as well as each UK government and their agencies.


UK barley production and exports (2014/15) supplied by AHDB:

  • Total production: 6.9m tonnes
  • Total exports:  1.5m tonnes (22% of total production)
  • Top 5 export destinations (HMRC data):

Spain – 250,000 tonnes

Saudi – 212,000 tonnes

Algeria – 164,000 tonnes

Netherlands – 154,000 tonnes

Germany – 138,000 tonnes


Sarah Mann, export manager at AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, said the industry estimated that the UK could initially supply between about 150,000 and 200,000t annually to China, with the potential to grow this.

She said there had already been a number of enquiries from Chinese buyers about UK barley, but it was not possible to agree any deals until the protocol had been granted on Friday.

UK late to the party?

However, an anonymous UK grain trader said he worried the timing of the access was not favourable, as China was trying to get its large maize stocks down by limiting imports of feed grains.

In contrast, France and Australia had been exporting significant volumes of barley to China for about two years and the UK was therefore “late to the party”.

France is thought to have exported about 2.9m tonnes of barley to China in 2014-15.

A guide outlining the requirements of the protocol to export UK barley to China will be available on cereals.ahdb.org.uk