3 August 2001

Barley exports tumble

BARLEY exports for 2000/01 are predicted to be 17% down on last months estimate, according to the Home Grown Cereals Authoritys latest supply and demand figures.

The estimate of 1.26m tonnes is about 0.5m tonnes below both the 1999/2000 exports and the five-year average. Although the animal feed usage figure was increased, barley stocks still ended 100,000t higher than Junes estimate.

"Exports were lowered because barley was not price competitive, although at the discount to wheat, it replaced some of the wheat rations," says HGCAs senior economist Gerald Mason.

But the market has done little in reaction to the figures, as harvest becomes the trades focal point. Feed barley is worth about £65/t ex-farm for September, with winter malting barley fetching £6-7/t above that.

Winter barley yields are generally better than first expected. An early estimate by Glencore Grain shows an average of 6.44t/ha (2.6t/acre). "But yield and quality is so varied this year, averages could be very misleading," says senior trader Robert Kerr.

Of the few samples Glencore has analysed, quality appears to be good, with 75% of the barley grown for malting making the grade. "There is a lot of good quality malting barley needing quick movement off the farm, which is preventing any rise in price short-term," says colleague James Read.

"But premiums could change once the spring barley is harvested – if quality is poor, supply will be tighter, which could push winter premiums up."