Barley is the common name for the genus of cereal grass and is native to Asia and Ethiopia. Barley is an ancient crop and was grown by the Egyptians, Greek, Romans and Chinese. Barley is now the world's fourth largest grain crop, after wheat, rice, and corn. Barley is planted in the spring in most of Europe, Canada and the United States. The U.S. barley crop year begins June 1. It is planted in the autumn in parts of California, Arizona and along the Mediterranean Sea. Barley is hardy and drought resistant and can be grown on marginal cropland. Salt-resistant strains are being developed for use in coastal regions. Barley grain, along with hay, straw, and several by-products are used for animal feed. Barley is used for malt beverages and in cooking. Barley, like other cereals, contains a large proportion of carbohydrate (67%) and protein (12.8%). Barley futures are traded on the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange (WCE), the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE) and the Budapest Commodity Exchange.
Prices - The monthly average price for all barley received by U.S. farmers in the 2007-08 marketing year (through December 2007) rose by +38.1% yr/yr to $4.00 per bushel.
Supply - World barley production in the 2006-07 marketing year rose +0.4%yr/yr to 138.678 million metric tons. The world's largest barley crop of 179.038 million metric tons occurred in 1990-91. The world's largest barley producers are the European Union with 39.6% of world production in 2006-07, Russia (13.3%), Ukraine (8.5%), Canada (7.2%), Turkey (5.2%), Australia (3.0%), and the U.S. (2.8%).
U.S. barley production in the 2007-08 marketing year rose by +17.8% yr/yr to 212.00 million bushels but that was still only about 35% of the record U.S. barley crop of 608.532 million bushels seen in 1986-87. U.S. farmers harvested 2.951 million acres of barley in 2006-07 which was the lowest acreage since the late 1800s (specifically, 1894-95). Furthermore, the barley yield in 2006-07 fell to 61.0 bushels per acre from the 2004-05 record high of 69.6. Ending stocks for the 2007-08 marketing year rose to 73 million bushels which was still 43.1% below the 12-year high of 128.4 million bushels in 2004-05.
Demand - U.S. total barley disappearance in 2007-08 rose +8.23% yr/yr to 250.0 million bushels, but that is still below the 2004-05 4-year high of 284 million bushels. About 65% of barley is used for food and alcoholic beverages, 22% for animal feed, and 3% for seed.
Trade - World exports of barley in 2006-07 fell by -11.5% yr/yr to 15.755 million metric tons, but that was still better than the 7-year low of 15.311 million metric tons seen in 2003-04. The largest world exporters of barley in 2006-07 were the European Union with 22% of world exports, Australia with 17%, Canada with 9%, and the U.S. with only 3%. The single largest importer of barley is Saudi Arabia with 6.000 million metric tons of imports in 2006-07.