SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Australian bulk wheat exports are off to a bumper start this marketing year and if the trend continues, Australia could exceed last year's total by more than 4 million tonnes, Wheat Exports Australia (WEA) announced on May 9.

In the first six months (Oct. 1 to March 31), 7.8 million tonnes of bulk wheat have been exported to 30 countries by 18 accredited exporters. This is 2.6 million tonnes (51%) more than for the same period last year.

Total bulk exports in January 2011 (approximately 1.6 million tonnes) were the highest monthly export volume since June 2008 and half a million tonnes more than in the same month last year.

Western Australia continued to be the largest exporter of bulk wheat (2.7 million tonnes) in the first half of the marketing year, although the total bulk exports from that state were down by 17%. The biggest bulk wheat export growth was from South Australia, which exported almost four times the amount than for the same period last year. Victoria also had a significant increase with bulk wheat exports up 265%. New South Wales and Queensland also increased exports by 75% and 46% respectively.

The biggest demand for Australian wheat came from the Asian region with Indonesia, Bangladesh, Japan, Vietnam and Korea importing more than 50% of Australia’s bulk wheat.

Bulk exports to Bangladesh tripled in the first half of 2010-11 compared to 2009-10. The Philippines imported almost 10 times more than during the corresponding period last year, a record total of 428,000 tonnes.

Exports to the Middle East have almost doubled, with bulk exports to Iraq increasing to 454,000 tonnes or nine times the amount for the same period last year.

The strong start to the marketing year indicates that Australia looks set to exceed last year’s total bulk wheat export volume of 12.1 million tonnes. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) currently estimates Australia’s total wheat exports (bulk and container) for 2010-11 at 16.2 million tonnes.