China barley imports in July plummet amid high price, sorghum volume spikes

Barley imports into China last month slumped to the lowest level in history as prices remained at high level amid weak output this year. 

China’s customs agency cleared just 40,000 tons of barley in July this year, down 91% from the previous month, latest data from the General Administration of Customs showed. On a year-on-year basis, the volume plunged 95%. 

Barley imports have lagged in 2022 compared to strong demand in 2021. Between January and July, China imported only 3.8 million tons of barley, whereas the volume was 6.42 million tons during the same period last year. 

Rising import costs were a key factor behind weaker demand from China. According to several grain traders spoken to by Sitonia Consulting, FOB flat price for US and Argentinian barley were quoted at $360-380/ton. 

With shipping freight rate to China at $50-60/ton, the CNF flat price for arrivals into China well exceeded buyers’ acceptable levels of $400/ton. 

Chinese importers’ tradeable idea remained sharply below international prices as domestic inflation in China have not been increasing at a similar pace as other major economies in the world. 

Meanwhile, sorghum imports into China last month surged 42% month on month to 1.32 million tons, which was also up 19% year on year. Many feed producers opted for cheaper sorghum to replace the use of feed-grade barley in their formula. 

According to brokers, offers for Argentinian sorghum were seen at a $50-70/ton discount to barley. 

As far as corn and wheat imports, both governed by a quota system in China, the volumes were mixed in July. Corn imports tanked 30% from the previous month to 1.54 million tons, the lowest level since November 2021, and it was down 46% on the year. 

Conversely, wheat imports rose 50% from June to 780,000 tons in July, a four-month high. However, it was still down 11% year on year.