PRINTABLE VERSION   EMAIL TO A FRIEND   RSS FEEDS 15:49 UK, 19th Jan 2010, by Agrimoney.com
Drink more beer - for barley's sake

Gatting barley prices out of their rut means Europeans drinking more beer, Toepfer International said in a note reporting little damage to wheat from this month's cold snap.

Weak demand from brewers was exacerbating the boost to malting barley supplies caused by strong European production, after record prices in 2008 prompted a rash in sowings for last year's harvest.

Prices of the grain in the key French port of Creil have fallen by 20% over the last six months to E100 a tonne.

"To reduce this high supply, more beer must be consumed in the EU," the report added, noting that raised exports represent an alternative way of supporting the market.

There is some hope of 2010 witnessing increased beer consumption. Brewers in many football-playing nations typically achieve better sales in years which include a World Cup.

'No weather damage' 

Toepfer's comments came as it reported that Europe's unusually low winter temperatures had posed little threat yet to autumn-sown wheat.

"There are currently very low temperatures in important wheat production regions," the German group said, highlighting protection offered by snow cover.

"But no large weather damage is to be expected in the European Union."

However, growers still faced the challenge of finding markets for grain, with Europe facing tough competition from Russia and Ukraine in Middle Eastern markets.

UK exports slip

Separately, UK customs data on Tuesday showed British wheat exports falling 53% to 784,165 tonnes in the July-to-November period, the first five months of the 2009-10 crop year.

Shipments to the Netherlands were notably weak, at 85,600 tonnes, while those to Spain, the UK's biggest wheat export market, eased 15.0% to 420,889 tonnes.

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