By FWi staff

BARLEY prices have remained firm despite falling wheat values. Old-crop barley inched up slightly following speculation of fresh export opportunities.

Feed barley is holding its own as the intervention system is supporting the ex-farm prices, said a spokesman from Glencore Grain.

Intervention quotes so far this month average £86.20/t and ex-farm barley is trading at nearly an £8 premium to wheat at £78/t.

Over the past few months, European prices for barley have risen steadily to stand at up to $10/t (£6/t) higher than at the end of November.

This rally is the result of higher-than-expected demand from China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Northern Africa, said Ian Wallis of Cargill Plc.

This is combined with reduced competition from Black Sea and eastern European countries, and a disciplined and controlled restitution campaign by the EU, he said.

But malting barley is a different story The European malsters and the malting barley trade suffered another kick with the currency devaluations in Brazil, said a spokesman from Banks Agriculture.

“It should not be forgotten that Brazil is one of the largest malt buyers in the world,” he said.

Winter barley is very difficult to place now, although there is demand for spring varieties under 1.8% nitrogen. However, barley under 1.7% nitrogen is also very hard to market.