Although subject to many of the wider issues that Brexit raises for grain e.g. trade with the EU, barley appears to have some specific issues to address. Among them are the large surplus relative to production, due to the growing popularity of spring barley amongst English farmers.
Agronomic reasons, principally increased need for cultural weed control, has driven UK barley production higher despite limited increases in domestic demand. This has resulted in a growing surplus of barley in recent years to be balanced with a combination of exports and stocks.
Recently, exports have been the key function to balance the UK barley market. In the five years to June 2016, the UK exported 5.85Mt of barley, up 2.3Mt (65%) on the prior five years. Interestingly, just 30% (0.68Mt) of the additional exports were into the EU.
However, the EU still accounted for a 68% share of the total UK barley exports in the five years to June 2016. Therefore, much will depend on the post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU.
This piece was supplied by Arthur Marshall, Analyst – Cereals, Oilseeds and Potatoes Market Intelligence at the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board