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General Characteristics

 - Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a cereal grain derived from an annual grass is the fourth most important cereal crop in the world after rice, wheat and maize.
 - Barley is very adaptable and is a widely grown crop. It is cultivated as a summer crop  in temperate areas and as a winter crop in tropical areas. Barley has a short growing season and is also relatively drought tolerant. However, it is a tender grain and care has to be taken in all stages of its growth and harvest. 
 - Barley is used as livestock feed, human food and barley malt. While, historically, livestock consumed most of barley produced globally, this is no more the case now. Currently food and industrial consumption of barley is more prominent. 
 - Barley along with corn/maize, sorghum, oats, pearl millet, finger millet  and other minor millets are grouped together as coarse cereals.      

Barley fields

Global market

 - The annual global barley production has been in the range of 130-140 million tonnes in the recent years. However, in 2014 it is estimated  to 145,36 million tonnes. The total average production of all coarse cereals in the recent years has been around 2471 million tonnes. 
 - European Union, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, Australia, Turkey and USA are the major producers of barley accounting for around 75% of the total global production, with average production in these regions being around 55, 18, 10, 10, 6, 6, 4-5 million tonnes respectively in the recent years. 
 - Following corn, barley is the second largest coarse cereal traded globally. The global trade in barley is reported to be around 17-18 million tonnes, with Ukraine (4-5 million tonnes), Russia (2-3 million tonnes), Australia (2-3) and EU-27 (2-3 million tonnes) being the major global exporters. 
 - The major importing nations are Saudi Arabia (6-8 million tonnes), China (1-1.5 million tonnes) and Japan (1-1.5 million tonnes. While, Saudi Arabia imports barley mainly for feed, Japan and China import it for both feed and malt production.
 - The global malt production is estimated to be around 22 million tonnes, more than 90% of which is produced from barley. It is estimated that around 94% of global malt production is used for making beer. The EU accounts for approximately 42% of the world's malt production. 

Global barley supply and demand

EU barley areas and opening stocks

EU barley producing countries

Ukraine grain exports and market share

Market influencing factors

 - Rising industrial demand is the main influencing factor. While, demand from feed sector is more or less constant, demand from beer and food processing sectors are picking up.
 - The price of other coarse cereals influences the demand from the feed sector and in- turn influences barley prices.
 - Easier proximity to Middle-east countries has increased the export demand. The amount of exports undertaken influences prices significantly. 
 - Weather has a profound influence on production.  

EU barley prices

GB beef and milk to barley price ratios