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Japanese buyers select U.S. feed barley

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) recently held its first 2008 Simultaneous Buy and Sell (SBS) program for feed barley. U.S. barley producers received the largest market share, due in large part to U.S. barley producers working with the U.S. Grains Council, according to Cary Sifferath, USGC director in Japan. The tender amount announced by MAFF was 241,000 metric tons of feed barley. However, Sifferath said the actual tendered quantities were 179,095 metric tons of feed barley, adding that unused allocations will be rolled into future SBS tenders.

“Based on conversations with Japanese trade, USGC/Tokyo has estimated the results for the first SBS feed barley tender in 2008 to include 97,595 tons from the United States and 74,000 tons from Canada, with the rest being sourced from Argentina,” said Sifferath. “This amounts to a 54 percent market-share for U.S. barley growers.”

Sifferath said during the last five tenders of 2007 (tenders 2-6), China had consistently tendered small amounts of feed barley, but due to government intervention did not sell barley to Japanese buying groups. He also said Argentina stepped in as a small player.

“While the Chinese government’s shut down of all grain exports out of China kept Chinese feed barley out of this SBS tender for the first time in 10 months, we now see some Argentine barley traded during this tender. This keeps in line with the additional competition we have seen from Argentine sorghum and corn in Japan over the last half of 2007,” said Sifferath. “We also have no Australian barley traded in this tender, as their supplies are limited ahead of their new crop.”

Japan has been using SBS for feed barley imports since 1999. In looking at all six of the SBS feed barley tenders last year (2007), USGC/Tokyo estimates that 490,010 tons of U.S. feed barley were sold accounting for around 44 percent of all feed barley purchased within the SBS feed barley tenders of 2007. The first SBS feed barley tender of 2008 is a good start, according to Sifferath, but at the same time he said, “as we move into future SBS feed barley tenders in 2008, it will be difficult for U.S. barley to play any major shares until our new crop is harvested in August, unless we find excess U.S. barley stocks hiding somewhere.”

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