Croppa Creek farmers hear how Australia's wheat market share is under pressure in South-East Asia

RaboResearch food and agribusiness Singapore-based senior analyst Oscar Tjakra and RaboResearch Sydney-based agricultural analyst Wes Lefroy stopped in Moree this week before presenting to farmers at an industry event in Croppa Creek.
RaboResearch food and agribusiness Singapore-based senior analyst Oscar Tjakra and RaboResearch Sydney-based agricultural analyst Wes Lefroy stopped in Moree this week before presenting to farmers at an industry event in Croppa Creek.

Australia’s wheat export market to South-East Asia is under pressure, a South-East Asian grains analyst told Croppa Creek farmers during a visit to the region this week.

Visiting from Singapore to give first-hand insight into Australia’s most important wheat markets, Oscar Tjakra, a research analyst with Rabobank’s Asian operations, said while South-East Asia poses strong growth prospects for wheat demand, due to a young population and increased consumption of wheat-based foods, Australia's export is under threat from competition.

"The South-East Asian market is traditionally an export destination market for Australian wheat," Mr Tjakra said.

"However, there's a lot of threat with the Black Sea exporters - Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan - exporting wheat and taking the market share out of Australia."

The current drought has also played a role in reducing Australia's supply, which has led South-East Asia to look to other markets.

“We’re seeing South-East Asia start importing from other regions," he said.

“If you get more countries with quality product, there'll be a threat of export to Australia as other regions start exporting to South-East Asia.

“They can take over the market share as the cost is cheaper than Australia because of lower supply chain costs."

Mr Tjaka said Australian wheat will always be bought to produce noodles, however he forecasts a significant growth in wheat demand for biscuits, cakes, bread and pastries as incomes in South-East Asia rise, which is seeing people replacing basic food products with more packaged and processed foods.

While Australia will have competition in South-East Asia, Mr Tjaka said there are strong growth opportunities for Australian feed wheat, and potentially feed barley and sorghum, in light of the recent trade agreement with Indonesia.

"Indonesia allows Australia to export 500,000 tonnes of feed grains which will increase by five per cent per annum to include wheat, barley and sorghum," he said.

Mr Tjaka said the main message he hoped to convey to farmers in the region is that Australian wheat is at an important junction.

"It’s important for farmers and clients to understand how these global market mechanisms are impacting on marketing decisions," he said.

"It is important [to know what’s going on globally] because it will affect their decisions on what to plant. If they know what is needed in the global market, they can plant the correct variety of wheat.

"If they want to participate in the growth in the South-East Asian, they need to make decisions on where the Australian industry will grow. The question I pose to farmers in Western Australia and eastern Australia is how the Australian industry as a whole wants to move forward? Do you want to focus on yield or quality?"