Australia produces a high quality 2-row spring type barley, with annual production averaging around 6.6 million tonnes/year (source ABARE). It is a widely grown crop (second in size only to wheat) and occupies a large geographic area – almost 4 million hectares – and it is dispersed from Western Australia to southern Queensland.
Australia has an enviable reputation for producing a reliable supply of high-quality, contaminant-free barley that is sought after by the malting, brewing, distilling, shochu and feed industries.
Australia produces around 2.5M metric tonnes of malting barley and 4.1M metric tonnes of feed barley and the average Australian malting selection rate is the highest of the world’s exporting nations with around 35-40% of our national crop selected as malt.
Domestically, malting barley demand is around 850,000 tonnes per year and Australian domestic feed use is around 2 million tonnes each year.
On the domestic front, locally-based brewers are tightly linked into Australia ’s barley production and strong relationships exist between all facets of the industry – from breeder to brewer and all stages in between.
Australia is comparatively export focussed with approximately 65% of the total barley crop exported annually. Breaking that down to malt and feed barley, around 1.65 million tonnes of malt barley, and around 2.1 million tonnes of feed are also exported each year.
To put that in a global perspective Australia makes up around 32% of the world’s malting barley trade and approximately 20% of the world’s feed barley trade. On a production basis (as opposed to actual inter-country trade), Australia makes up around 5% of the world’s annual barley global production.