27 June 1997

UK barley area 6%up, says merchant

ANOTHER big crop of barley is on the cards as the increased UK area (up 6%) outweighs the effect of reduced yield from a drought-affected winter crop.

At 8m tonnes, Allied Grain predicts the biggest harvest this decade, even after allowing for 2% variance in its projections. With static demand, this will lead to a surplus of about 2.5m tonnes.

The barley market has been led this season by excellent third country demand, says Allied, particularly to Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the company shipped its largest cargo ever in February to that destination, a 58,500t load out of Tilbury.

With world coarse grain stocks at just 14% of demand, the scenario is potentially bullish and exports are likely to drive the trade again in 1997/98, though there is only limited harvest demand from Spain and Portugal, accounting for current depressed prices.