U.S. barley a major player in Japan, despite limited supplies

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) held its second 2008 Simultaneous Buy and Sell (SBS) program for feed barley on Wednesday, April 16, 2008. The tender amount announced by MAFF was 331,000 metric tons (15.2 million bushels) of feed barley. The actual tendered quantities were 179,740 metric tons (8.2 million bushels).

“Based on conversations with Japanese trade, we estimate the results for the second SBS feed barley tender in 2008 to include 54,740 tons (2.5 million bushels) from the United States, 10,000 tons (459,000 bushels) from Canada and 105,000 tons (4.8 million bushels) being sourced from Australia,” said Cary Sifferath, U.S. Grains Council senior director in Japan. “However, remember that these are just estimates based on discussions with Japanese trade. We are still trying to clear up how much Canadian barley was traded. It is possible that the 10,000 tons (459,000 bushels) I mentioned is also U.S. barley.”

He said Argentina stepped in as a small player during the last tender, but did not have a presence at the most recent SBS. However, Australia made its way back into the SBS tenders after seeing limited or even zero amounts over the last four tenders going back to August of 2007. The tender results were representative of his projection subsequent to the first tender of 2008 where U.S. barley acquired a 54 percent market share.

“I anticipated that it would be difficult for U.S. barley to play any major shares until our new crop is harvested in August, unless we were to find excess U.S. barley stocks hiding somewhere,” said Sifferath. “Still, 55,000 tons (2.5 million bushels) is impressive and great news for U.S. growers given the limited amounts of U.S. barley stocks still available.”

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