• Output $769 million est. Up 170% yoy.
  • Barley exports underwent a rapid reconfiguration in 2020-21.
  • NSW Feed barley exports valued at $49 million.
The 2020-21 season was a mixed bag for NSW barley producers. Excellent growing conditions led to a sharp rebound in barley production, however this was somewhat overshadowed by relatively flat prices and an uncertain export outlook. A record crop more than offset the fall in price with GVP increasing to $769 million.

DPI research project connecting the craft brewing industry with NSW barley growers

NSW DPI’s Tamworth Agricultural Research Station is growing ancient barley to capitalise upon a growing consumer trend for artisanal, premium and natural products made with local ingredients and characteristics.

DPI’s Senior Research Scientist Dr Jenny Wood says “The craft brewing industry is keen to connect with NSW barley growers interested in growing novel lines. This would assist growers looking to increase diversification in marketing.”

Find out more
back arrow
forward arrow

Ag-tech innovation delivering results for primary industries

The Global Ag-Tech Ecosystem (GATE) initiative was created by DPI in 2018 to provide training and opportunities to develop Australian global ag-tech ideas. In partnership with SparkLabs Cultiv8, the GATE offers mentoring, incubation and acceleration programs, as well as access to investment services.

Located at the Orange Agricultural Institute, the GATE provides a unique opportunity for ag-tech developers to access DPI R&D expertise or bring their own, and to collaborate with technology providers, business services and investors to create commercialised products for the agricultural sector.

More Information
back arrow
forward arrow


After three years of drought and declining grain production, NSW barley production soared this season. Year-on-year area planted was up 7% to 950 thousand hectares. 3 Area planted may have been much lower if the Chinese had announced import tariffs earlier, with planting already completed and limited scope to switch area to other crops.
In addition to the increase in acreage, favourable soil moisture profiles at planting and above-average rainfall throughout the critical growing season, gave rise to an above-average yield of 3.4 tonnes per hectare and resulted in a record production of 3.2 million tonnes 3 , up 82% on the 10-yr average and representing 17% of the total NSW winter crop harvest.

Year-on-Year change in barley production

  • NSW
  • QLD
  • SA
  • Tas
  • VIC
  • WA
Source: ABARES (2021)


Increased supply and a challenging export markets (due to the imposition of China’s tariffs) meant that farmgate prices were down on average. The Chinese decision to impose tariffs on Australian barley imports in May 2020 had a dramatic effect on the market in 2020 with feed barley prices falling sharply, closing out the 2019-20 year down 32% on the previous year’s closing price. The improvement in seasonal conditions and the prospect of a big domestic crop, meant that prices largely tracked sideways until the end of 2020. Despite the improved pasture conditions, domestic demand for feed grains remained historically high throughout the latter half of 2020, with national feedlot utilization for the March 2021 quarter at 76% of capacity. 152 Due to the price discount relative to wheat and ample domestic supply, barley took on a larger proportion of domestic feed rations.

By the start of 2021, prices had regained some value relative to wheat. A lack of seller engagement, renewed export demand, and a rally in global feed grain values driven by tightening global corn stocks, were the main drivers of this increase. 181 Prices remained relatively flat for the remainder of the year to the end of June due to a lack of liquidity, with sellers happy to retain grain in storage until prices improved and buyers who had already covered near-term shipping demand.

F1 Barley Vs Wheat price

  • Feed Barley Del. Port Kembla
  • Wheat (H2) Del. Port Kembla
Source: DPIE (2021)

Trade and Macroeconomic Conditions

Australian barley exports j

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • China
  • Japan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Other
Source: GTA (2021)
Despite the ongoing trade challenges, export demand was remarkably strong and combined with the increased supply, a strong export program was required to assist with pricing for the new 2021-22 season. Australian barley exports underwent a rapid reconfiguration in 2020-21. The large exportable surplus and the combined duties of 80.5%, made Australian barley uncompetitive into China and forced grain traders to seek out alternative markets. The influence of China on Australian barley exports over the past few years has been substantial, although it is a destination which is now effectively closed. 192 Approximately 65% of Australian barley exports over the past 5-years have been to China, of which about 44% was malting quality 128 , which commanded a premium price and other markets are unlikely to be as lucrative.

All the barley exported out of NSW in 2020-21 was feed barley. 128 In total, 155,787 tonnes was exported and valued at $49 million. 128 Kuwait was NSW’s largest market, taking 48% of the total available volume and with an export value of $24 million, followed in value by Saudi Arabia ($8 million) and Japan ($5 million).

Historically, barley exports were much more diverse, with Australia a significant supplier to Middle Eastern countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran and Jordan. 128 Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest barley importer where, being a dry State, demand is exclusively for feed barley. With China effectively priced out of the Australian export market, Australian barley became much more competitive and, in January 2021, Australia won the first barley tender for delivery into Saudi Arabia, the highest volume exported to the Kingdom since 2016. 191 Australian barley was frequently priced out of Middle Eastern markets by exports from the Black Sea region, however, the Russian export tax on wheat, barley and corn, which came into effect in March 2021, has made Australian exports more price competitive into this feed grain market.


Favourable seasonal conditions at planting across the major grain growing regions of NSW signals a promising forecast for barley production for 2021-22, although down on the record-breaking 2020-21 crop, mainly due to a return to more average yields. Domestic barley plantings are expected to remain relatively stable, considering barley plays an important role in crop rotations. With global coarse grain production forecast to ease slightly in 2021-22, barley prices will continue to be supported. The strong global demand for all grains may mean that the true impact of the Chinese import tariffs on barley prices has not yet become fully apparent. In the short term, domestic barley prices will remain supported by the price differential with wheat in the feed grain market. It is expected that Australian barley exports will continue to shift to other Asian and Middle Eastern markets. While exporters have been largely successful in diversifying feed barley exports away from China, it is important to note that diversification has partially benefitted from supply issues and policy decisions in competitor countries located nearer to these countries. Export competition for these markets may intensify in the future. 216 204
Barley field