Malting barley field just before harvest
19 December 2019

Surplus despite heterogeneous qualities in Europe

Malting barley report | The 2019 spring barley harvest has been largely traded in Europe. France and Great Britain served the market early and with low priced offers. Despite the qualitatively inconsistent and in some cases very weak supply, the European market assumes a surplus and maltsters nearly operate at full capacity.

Harvest results

This year’s surplus areas for spring brewing barley in Europe are mainly France, Denmark and Great Britain. However, suppliers in France assume that maltsters will have to tolerate protein contents at a minimum of nine percent. Nevertheless, the surplus of spring barley is estimated at 2.1 Mio t in France and at 890,000 t in Denmark. England and Wales are assuming to export 450,000 t. A lot of barley has already been sold there due to Brexit uncertainties. This surplus is due to a high proportion of malting barley with good quality results.

In Germany, spring barley qualities have again turned out very heterogeneous in 2019. Around 54 percent of the harvest is malting barley, so that import requirements are expected to sum up to around 1.1 Mio. t. Especially the southwest of Germany has already received supplies from France and Great Britain, although in many cases again of the cheaper variety Planet, despite its low protein content. Imports are also required by Austria (30,000 to 40,000 t), Poland (around 300,000 t), and the Czech Republic (60,000 to 90,000 t). Poor qualities are reported in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. While barley usually has flowed from the Czech Republic to Bavaria, this year goods tend to go the other way round.

Despite the inconsistent and regionally very moderate qualities in Europe, experts anticipate a surplus of summer malting barley totaling 800,000 t, a high proportion of which being the Planet variety. A similarly high surplus is also expected for six-row winter barley. Due to low-cost offers from France and Great Britain, Denmark still holds unsold spring barley. However, it is increasingly demanded by exporters of feed barley, which can relieve the market. The market for spring brewing barley in Europe is currently calm. No major developments are expected until spring 2020.

Outlook for 2020

Spring barley acreage is estimated to develop differently in Europe in the coming year. While France anticipates a reduction to 575,000 hectares, England and Wales considers extension to 520,000 hectares and Denmark to 515,000 hectares possible. Germany is expected to keep the acreage unchanged in the best case, but a further decline of about 10 % may also be possible. While Austria does not expect the acreage for spring barley to recover, it anticipates more cropland for winter brewing barley. Whereas a decline of acreage is expected in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Poland may see an extension. However, all these developments are subject to weather conditions for winter sowing.

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