Wheat and barley rally on export demand

Wheat and barley rally on export demand

Grains
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Panic over the coronavirus and possible shortages of staple food items has also triggered additional demand for cereals grains.

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Australian grain prices jumped last week on exporter buying following a sharp drop in the value of the Australian dollar.

The Australian dollar plunged 7.5 per cent last week to 0.6150 cents, which has made local grain prices more competitive into export markets.

Panic over the coronavirus and possible shortages of staple food items has also triggered additional demand for cereals grains. Supermarket shelves have been stripped bare as shoppers stockpile large amounts of staple food items like pasta, rice, flour and meat.

Supermarkets have been forced to introduce temporary limits on how many items of food and other products that shoppers since coronavirus sparked widespread panic buying.

Table 1: Queensland grain prices. Source: Lloyd George

Table 1: Queensland grain prices. Source: Lloyd George

The extent of the surge in demand has caught many by surprise. Supermarkets have requested additional supplies from food manufactures which in turn has them sounding out additional purchases of cereal grains, including wheat, oats and barley.

Similar demand increases are being reported across the globe as panicked shoppers in Asia, North America and Europe move to stock up pantries as they wait for the coronavirus concerns to ease. Exporters are reporting that overseas wheat buyers are also scoping out additional purchases to cope with the spike in demand.

Experts have moved to calm consumer fears of food shortages, saying there is plenty to go around. Supply chains are also expected to feel the strain of the demand surge as shoppers clamour to secure weeks of basic food items in advance.

WA wheat prices jumped $10-15 a tonne last week as exporters moved to secure additional supplies on the back of the kick in demand. Prices have also spiked in Melbourne where barley bids have climbed by $15 on rumoured Chinese buying.

Barley bids have rallied by $25/t to $380 delivered into the Darling Downs since early last week as sellers disappear any buyers more anxious to lock in supplies for the coming months.

Global grain markets remain rattled in a mix of coronavirus uncertainty, plummeting oil prices and foreign exchange volatility.

United States wheat futures have tumbled more than 7pc in the past four weeks as investors become nervous.

Talk of demand reduction over basic food items such as wheat must start to be questioned following the recent surge in buying across the globe, as shoppers rush to ensure they don't miss out.

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