Australian wheat harvest bigger than was thought

images (4) Australia’s wheat harvest last year broke the record far more easily than had been thought, lifted by 28% by "the benefits of improved seasonal conditions and increased rainfall".

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has pegged the 2010-11 domestic harvest at 27.9m tonnes, well ahead of existing forecasts, besides the previous record of 26.1m tonnes.

Australia’s commodities bureau, Abares, pegs last year’s crop at 26.3m tonnes, with the US Department of Agriculture estimating the harvest at 26.0m tonnes.

"All states had increases except Western Australia, which due to very dry conditions fell by 38% to 5.0m tonnes," ABS said.

"New South Wales doubled its previous year’s production, up to 10.7m tonnes."

Record inventories

The bureau is seen in the markets as a reliable source, and indeed its data are quoted by the USDA, the world’s foremost agricultural authority.

And the harvest upgrade tallies with a higher-than-expected inventory figure for the close of 2010-11, at the end of September, that ABS has already revealed, Nick Higgins at Rabobank said.

The bureau last month estimated Australia’s carryover wheat stocks at a record 8.25m tonnes, even after a jump to 24.9m tonnes in use – most of it, 18.6m tonnes, in exports.

The previous record wheat harvest, of 26.1m tonnes, was set in 2003-04.–3862.html

Australian wheat export surge ‘slows considerably’

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Is Australia’s golden period of wheat exports losing its lustre?

The southern hemisphere’s top exporter of the grain continued its run of increased grain shipments in July, as merchants continued to sell down stocks left over from last year’s record crop.

However, at 1.7m tonnes, exports were only 5% higher than a year before, a significant slowdown from increases averaging more than 30% earlier in the 2010-11 season, which began in October.

"The growth rate in Australia wheat exports slowed considerably in July," Paul Deane at Australia & New Zealand Bank said.

‘Realign prices’

The slowdown co-incided with the return of Russia, renowned for its competitive prices, to wheat exports, after an 11-month ban imposed to save supplies hit by the country’s worst drought on record.

Russia’s grain exports, mainly wheat, have been pegged by analysis group SovEcon at 2.6m tonnes in July and 2.9m tonnes last month.

"That’s affected everybody, not just Europe and its trade with the Middle East we all hear about," a UK grain trader told

"For Australia too, they have had to realign their price expectations."

Rebound in progress?

However, Cargill-owned AWB, the Australian grain handler, said that recent rises Black Sea prices had lifted pressure on export values.

"Over recent weeks Eastern European wheat prices, considered to be the cheapest global wheat, have risen substantially in line with strong demand," AWB spokesman Jon White said.

"When combined with a predicted smaller corn supply out of the US this translates to higher expected prices for Australian wheat."

Signally, Australian wheat was offered at an Egyptian grain tender two weeks ago at $303 a tonne – cheaper than French and US grain, excluding shipping, and only some $8 a tonne above winning Russian offers.

AWB on Monday raised by Aus$10 a tonne, to Aus$300 a tonne, its forecast for returns to farmers selling benchmark Australian prime wheat through its pools.

Canola slowdown

The official export report also showed Australia’s canola shipments slowing last month, to 600 tonnes, although thanks to rapid trade earlier in the season, exports have already hit 1.38m tonnes, the best October-to-July performance for a decade.

"The Australian canola export programme has essentially finished for the marketing year," ANZ’s Paul Deane said.

"Exports are likely to remain marginal until new crop supplies become available."

However, in cotton, exports hit a record 600,000 bales last month, taking to 1.6m bales shipments since the crop year started in April, and leaving a further 2.5m bales to go, on ANZ estimates.–3579.html

Viterra ships record-breaking 7 million tonnes of grain through Australian ports

tải xuống (1)

ADELAIDE, Australia – Viterra Inc. said Tuesday it shipped record volumes of grain through ports in South Australia state between last October and the end of July.

The Regina-headquartered grain handler said it exported 6.84 million tonnes on behalf of 14 customers in the state in the southern central part of Australia, which has seen enormous harvests recently.

The previous record was 6.69 million tonnes shipped between October and September of 2001-2002.

"The efficient operation of Viterra’s ports has ensured a highly competitive marketplace for South Australian grain and Viterra is committed to opening up new markets for Australian growers," said Mayo Schmidt, Viterra’s chief executive officer.

For instance, Schmidt said Viterra is expanding its international presence into Southeast Asia, and recently opened up a new marketing office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the record shipments have enabled Viterra to clear grain from sites where there had been bottlenecks, so that they’re ready to handle another large harvest, said Rob Gordon, who heads Viterra’s Southeast Asia division.

Viterra expects solid shipping to continue through August and September in the lead-up to the 2011-2012 harvest.

Viterra (TSX:VT) has operations around the world in grain handling and marketing, agri-products and processing.

Shares in the company closed up 11 cents at $9.96 Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Apple exporters bicker as Australian market opens

tải xuống (7) There can be few more passionate individuals than an Australian orchardist on the topic of fireblight, the destructive organism that can destroy a productive block of apple or pear trees almost overnight.

New Zealand has fireblight, and has been managing it for years. While a serious pest, it is largely a non-issue.

In Australia, where its presence on orchards has never been officially confirmed, it is the apple grower’s equivalent of the Black Death, with a long history of hysterical politics, whipped along by the small but vocal Victorian and New South Wales apple industries.

The suspicion has always been they fear competition more than fireblight. Accordingly, it took a ground-breaking complaint against Australia by New Zealand to the World Trade Organisation to overturn virtually the only protected market under the 32 year-old Closer Economic Relations agreement.

Now, the WTO decision has taken effect, with apples allowed into Australia from Wednesday of this week.

Yet just as this long-closed market in our closest, largest trading partner opens up, the New Zealand industry has fallen to in-fighting over whether an NZ Inc approach, using the light regulation available through the Horticultural Export Authority, is desirable, or whether to trust exporters to find value as they do every day in every other market where New Zealand apples are sold.

Had all gone according to industry lobbyist Pipfruit New Zealand’s plan, the Australian market would have been an developed right from the first season, using the HEA, a body that already regulates exports of such obscure items as squash and avocado.

Whether it’s done a good job of managing either is a matter of opinion. Those who support the HEA say it’s achieved better results than growers alone could have hoped for. Opponents say it’s bureaucratic waste of money.

However, the Cabinet was persuaded the idea made sense, approved inclusion of apples under the HEA late last month, and hatched a plan to whisk through the necessary legislation as a Supplementary Order Paper to a Statutes Amendment Bill currently before Parliament.

The HEA structure means only licenced exporters can send produce to the designated markets, product groups can adopt rules for exporting that are backed by the force of law and, most worrying to the growers who oppose it, can levy licenced growers to fund marketing campaigns.

But there was a snag.

The opposition of a single MP is all that’s needed to stop an S.O.P. going ahead. At the urging of a group of exporter-grower,s led by aspiring Act Party candidate and exporter John Thompson, Act’s parliamentary leader, John Boscawen, has blocked the HEA measure, meaning the earliest it can progress through

Parliament will be as separate legislation next year, way too late for the apples already sitting in packhouses awaiting shipment to Australia in the next few days.

With the Australian industry and politicians watching for a kiwi slip-up that could allow the apple ban to be reimposed, Pipfruit NZ’s chief executive Peter Beaven, fears the consequences of the last minute wrangling.

Both the New Zealand and Australian Governments are "very conscious of perceptions in this matter," says Beaven. "Political sensitivities will be lessened if there is order.

"I have to say I am quite frustrated by the position they’ve taken," he said of the opposing group of growers.

"What they have done makes no sense at all. We will still have a vote to see if it (the apple industry) wants the HEA. What Act’s movements will do is give the Australians ammunition."

John McCliskie, a former board member of the apple exporter ENZA, is furious about it.

"They are in danger of destroying the biggest opportunity for the industry in 50 years," he says, arguing that the vast majority of apple orchards are struggling to survive commercially, and that a united approach will be better than New Zealand exporters fighting one another to get into the two supermarket chains that control most of the fruit market in Australia.

Yet how important is this long-sought Eldorado of Apples?  Twenty-two million Australians eat about half as many apples a year as we do, partly because they have a lot of other fruit, and the apple sector is small in that country.

The issues in Australia are far less important than gaining better market access to the Chinese apple market. At best, Australia might take 500,000 cartons a year, while the Chinese are already taking up to 800,000 and the total potential market there is in the millions of cartons annually.

Nor do Australian orchardists’ fears of competition seem well-founded. Australians like sweeter varieties than the ubiquitous kiwi Braeburn.

Growers associated with Thompson say the right apples for the Aussie market will self-select and are unlikely to be able to meet all demand. The HEA is simply a dead hand regulator without even the power to set prices, and is being foisted on the sector in a rush, they say.

In an email to David Carter on the issue, Yummy brand owner Paul Paynter said two large exporters had told him their support was "based around creating a cost structure that excludes small exporters – that is, it is a power play for them.

"Curiously the costs they hope to impose, with no doubt be allocated to grower pools, so in effect the growers will pay for their market power," said Paynter, who described consultation for HEA "wafer thin and inadequate to date"

Pipfruit NZ’s actions were "totally premature" prior to proper industry consultation.

The issue needs careful handling. When fireblight was discovered in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens in the mid-1990’s, the Australian response was on a par with an alien landing, and included officials in bulky bio-security hazard suits removing the offending plant under saturation media coverage.

When a visiting New Zealand plant scientist suggested the "outbreak" was evidence that Australia had already had fireblight for quite a while without ill-effects, Australian authorities accused the kiwi boffin of deliberately planting the fireblight to embarrass them.

Beaven says the HEA proposal, which falls well short of the kind of "single desk seller" arrangements used for kiwifruit and dairy exports, is proposed only for the Australia, because it’s a start-up market with particular sensitivities.

But to Paul Dellabarca, an exporter claiming to handle 12 per cent of total New Zealand apple exports, "HEA just adds costs and bureaucratic red tape that is unnecessary and brings no obvious or guaranteed benefits."

For the moment, the market liberals have won and so far there are only four local packhouses that can meet the stringent washing and testing requirements imposed by Australian border security.

However, Beaven expects as many as 12 may be registered by next season, and that by then, the industry will have a chance to consult fully about the HEA proposal.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether the horse has bolted in the meantime.

Alliance Grain Traders buys Australian chickpea and pulse processor

images (3) REGINA – Alliance Grain Traders Inc. said Tuesday it is expanding into the Australian chickpea and pulse market through its $8-million acquisition of Canz Commodities.

The assets are located in Narrabri, about 500 kilometres northwest of Sydney, and include real property, storage and related handling equipment, as well as a plant to process grains and pulses.

The $8-million pricetag includes the cash acquisition price, as well as a budget for improvements. An expansion and improvements to the facility are expected to begin right away.

Alliance’s Australian subsidiary will operate the assets.

The Narrabri facility has direct rail access to the port of Sydney.

The assets in the state of New South Wales compliment Alliance’s existing assets in Victoria and South Australia, said chief executive Murad Al-Katib.

"The variety of pulses grown here, especially the mix of desi and kabuli chickpeas and beans goes a long way in solidifying our diversified global origination strategy focusing on production regions and the full range of pulse products to our global distribution channels," he said in a statement.

"Australia is becoming a leader in the production and export of pulses, especially pulses like desi chickpeas, faba beans and mung beans that we do not grow or see limited production in many of our other origins."

Regina-based Alliance (TSX:AGT) is a pulse processor and exporter with offices in Canada, the United States, Turkey, Australia, China, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain.