Malting Barley Supplies Plentiful

Plentiful supplies and slack demand means that malting barley prices are scarcely commanding a premium over feed barley, according to media reports.

The global recession, and the public smoking ban, is also having an effect on demand from the beer and whisky industries, with maltsters reporting that they are already well covered for the season.

The largest European malting barley producer is France, they should have a total barley crop of 12.6 MMT this year, according to the Agriculture Ministry. That's an increase of 3% on last season's production of 12.2 MMT, and would set a new record.

French analysts Strategie Grains estimate that 71% of this season's spring barley will make malting standard.

Germany's barley harvest this season is expected around 12 MMT, of which an estimated 1.5-1.6 MMT is expected to be malting quality, and increase of around 15-20% on last season's 1.3 MMT.

Malting barley prices in both countries have fallen to around EUR100/tonne, merchants say.

Meanwhile in the UK, the late 2008 harvest and appalling weather conditions saw a large switch into spring barley plantings this year. According to the HGCA, spring barley plantings in the UK were up 22% to 727,500 hectares.

ADAS say that spring barley yields are better than average at around 5.4 MT/ha, and quality is generally good, although persistent wet weather in Scotland, where almost 50% of the UK spring barley is grown, has caused quite a few rejection problems.