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Chinese appetite for Australian barley is back


“This led us to change course, so we found new markets, like Mexico. We managed to lower customs duties, which previously exceeded 100%,” director Sean Cole told AFP. acting general of the GrainGrowers trade association.

“With the demise of China, Australia has been forced to return to more traditional customers in the animal feed market, primarily in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, where we have been present for over 20 years.” , he added.

Between June 2022 and June 2023, Saudi Arabia became the largest importer of Australian barley, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Lyndon Mickel farms 6,000 hectares of land near Beaumont in south-west Australia. The last harvest from his grain and pea fields was the 23rd of his career, but it took time to recover from Chinese tariffs.

“We had a drop in prices, but we were fortunate to have had two very good years during that period in terms of harvest,” he said. “So what we lost in price, we gained in tonnage anyway.”

But those boom years – producing more than 14 million tonnes of barley in the last two harvests – are over.


As El Nino – the cyclical weather phenomenon responsible for rising global temperatures – returns to the Pacific, ABARES forecasts barley production to fall 24 percent to 10.8 million tonnes for the 2023 harvest – 2024.

The reopening of the Chinese market couldn’t come at a better time, said Sean Cole.

“A lot of our barley is classified as animal feed, but it is still suitable for making beer in China,” he said. “They use slightly different processes, and that basically means we can get a premium for more of our feed barley.”

On average, barley destined for China is sold “around $38 to $40 per ton until tariffs are lifted,” representing “an additional $400 million in value for the barley crop.” Australian next year, even with a smaller decline. harvest,” Cole added.


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