Australia continues to find alternative markets for its agricultural exports in the face of massive Chinese tariffs in a move that boosts tonne miles. Australian grain industry co-operative, the CBH Group, recently reported a record shipment of barley for Saudi Arabia from its Albany Grain Terminal. Some 60,075 tonnes were loaded aboard Great Eastern’s 82,000-dwt bulker Jag Amar (built 2017) in what was the port’s third largest shipment across all commodities.

CBH Group said it eclipsed the previous barley shipment record of 59,380 tonnes loaded on the 81,799-dwt Shandong Fu De (built 2018) in May 2018. “We continue to build new and expand existing markets in South America, Middle East and Thailand,” CBH Group said in a posting on LinkedIn.

Australian barley has found significant new markets in Japan, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, according to a recent report by Simpson Spence Young (SSY). Saudi Arabia imported 800,000 tonnes of Australian barley in December-January combined compared with none in the same period the year before. “In its most recent report, the US department of Agriculture (USDA) upgraded its forecast for Saudi Arabian barley imports in the 2020/21 market year by 800,000 tonnes to a four-year high of 8m tonnes citing stronger feed demand and a recent large tender, which is likely to include Australian produce,” said the shipbroker.

In sharp contrast the barley trade to China has been reduced to negligible volumes after the Chinese government imposed punitive import tariffs on Australian barley last year. “The redirection of Australian barley exports from China to longer-haul destinations such as Saudi Arabia was accompanied by increased Canadian and Ukrainian barley exports to the former, providing a significant tonne mile increase on previous Australia-China trade,” said SSY.

In January this year Mexico bought its first ever shipment of barley from Australia with 35,000 tonnes shipped aboard the 39,511-dwt bulker Nord Annapolis (built 2018). “While it is early days, this shipment to Mexico signals a potential new market for malting barley, however this will need to be developed over time,” CBH Group said at the time.