AWB's last durum shipment is a final high note on a low season

by Teresa Acklin
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AWB Limited shipped its last load of durum for the 1998-99 season in September, ending the season with the country's largest durum shipment ever.

The 45,000-tonne shipment was bound for Italy, Australia's biggest durum market. This marks the end of an exceptionally difficult season for durum, said AWB's durum merchant, Stuart Richardson.

"It has been an extremely tough season for durum with high world stocks really pushing down the price," he said.

Excessive rain in New South Wales also hurt durum quality, and Australia had to broaden its market base to find new customers for slightly lesser quality durum, Mr. Richardson said.

But despite the low prices, Australia shipped record tonnages this season, exporting 260,000 tonnes to countries such as Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Dubai and Kuwait.

Australia heads into a new durum season with an improved outlook, Mr. Richardson said.

"Italy's durum crop has been hurt by harvest rain so it's shaping up as a good market for us this year," he said. "Although there are still high world stocks of durum, we are hopeful that with lower durum production we will see an upturn in durum prices next year."

In response to the growing market, AWB Limited has appointed an additional durum merchant, Nick Gomersall, who has worked with grain traders internationally and has extensive experience in the Middle East and North Africa.