Indonesia ups the ante on wheat imports from Australia

INDONESIA bought a record 5.31 million tonnes of wheat from Australia last season — more than a million tonnes up on its previous annual purchase record set in 2011-12.
But according to CBH Group marketing and trading general manager Jason Craig, Australia will need to keep expanding sales to its biggest customer by 5 per cent a year in order to fend off competition from Black Sea wheat sellers, Russia and the Ukraine.
Mr Craig said the Indonesian population was growing at 5 per cent a year.
“Unless we can grow the market at 5 per cent (annually), we will struggle to keep our market share,” he said.
Indonesia has been Australia’s No. 1 customer for the past 15 years.
The 5.31 million tonnes of Australian wheat bought in the 12 months to September 30 this year eclipsed Indonesia’s previous import record of 4.29 million tonnes, in 2011-12.
That year, Australia exported a record 24.11 million tonnes of wheat.
Despite a record 35 million tonne wheat crop last season, exporters shipped just 22.61 million tonnes of the grain out of Australia, according to data The Weekly Times obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Mr Craig said when dry conditions became apparent on the east coast of Australia by the middle of this year, grain stocks were held back for the domestic market at a premium to the export ­market.
That led to a slowing of exports, he said.
The ABS data for 2016-17 showed five of Australia’s top 10 wheat-buying nations last season set new purchase records, including the top three customers.
India was Australia’s second-biggest customer last year, buying more than 2.24 million tonnes of wheat.
Its previous record was 2.19 million tonnes, in 1997-98.
Mr Craig said India imported 5.5 million to six million tonnes of wheat from various nations last season, so Australia’s shipments of 2.24 million tonnes accounted for a major share.
“For the past couple of years, Australia has been a major supplier to that market,” he said.
The Philippines was the third-largest buyer of Australian wheat with 2.11 million tonnes, followed by China on 1.97 million tonnes.

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