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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Wheat exports down, China hungry for Australian barley

Forecasters expect Australian winter crop exports will be almost half of last year, while insatiable Chinese appetite for Australian barley is driving demand.

With winter crop harvesting wound up across Australia, forecasters say the amount of wheat to be exported in 2024 will be almost half what it was last year, while barley is also down despite big demand from China.

Rural Bank's Australian Crop Forecasters is expecting wheat exports to be 17.8 million tonnes this year, down 44 per cent from the 2023 record of 31.8 million tonnes.

Barley export forecasts are also predicted to be lower at 6.9 million tonnes compared to 8.2 million tonnes, despite insatiable demand for Australian barley from China driven by Beijing's lifting on tariffs in August 2023.

"It's been a rapid export programme," said Rural Bank senior insights manager Greg Kuchel.

"Since the opening up of the market they've (the Chinese) come in gangbusters.

"Of 3.8 million tonnes exported so far 2.8 million tonne has gone to China, so 74 per cent."

The agricultural analyst expects the demand from China for barley will continue if Australia can meet supply.

Most of Australia's barley will be planted across April and May.

"Most people now are starting to do their crop plans, and barley is seriously being considered," Mr Kuchel said. 

But Dennis Voznesenski from Commonwealth Bank told AAP that not all growers are opting for barley. 

The sustainable and agricultural economist said demand is down in the west of the country, where there's a greater reliance on exports.

"They're (grain growers) concerned that the concentration of the market is so highly dependent on China to get a good price, to them it's not worth the risk," he said.

"I think farmers are still cautious from when China left the market."


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