RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia’s barley imports for 2018-19 are estimated at 8.5 million tonnes, a 12% increase from the previous year, according to a Nov. 7 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The higher imports, up by 900,000 tonnes over the 2017-18 total, are needed to raise stock levels and meet demand, the USDA said.

The agency said the barley purchase estimate is based on “purchases of barley concluded by the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) for arrivals before the end of December 2018. SAGO expects to receive more than 4.7 million tonnes of barley during the first six months of the current marketing year.”

SAGO estimates domestic barley consumption of 8 million tonnes this year.

The USDA noted that Russia overtook Ukraine as the largest feed barley supplier to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2017-18. During that period, Russia exported about 2.3 million tonnes, or approximately 29% of total Saudi imports. Ukraine, which had been Saudi Arabia’s largest supplier, was second with 23% of Saudi Arabia’s barley imports, followed by Germany at 12.7% and Romania at 10%.