SINGAPORE — The Australian Grain Industry is exploring hosting a regular international industry event in Singapore.

The inaugural event the week of March 10, AGIC Singapore, was designed to complement the major Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne, Australia, in July. The Singapore conference focused on the quality requirements for grains and oilseeds of end users in the critical Australian markets across Asia.

The conference was hosted by Grain Trade Australia (GTA), the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) and Pulse Australia. 

GTA’s Geoff Honey said that with Asia such a high priority destination for Australian grain, AGIC Singapore provided an opportunity for customers, processors and marketers of Australian grain to gain an update on the Australian crop prospects, quality and logistics.

“It provides the Australian industry with an opportunity to hear first-hand from its customers. Based on the positive feedback from delegates, the industry is hoping to now make this a regular event,” he said.

Delegates from across the domestic and international grain supply chain were told that markets in Asia will continue to expand over the next ten to fifteen years, but that Australia will need to utilize all available quality, R&D and market information to capitalize on these opportunities.

Oilseeds was a key focus of the conference, with speakers highlighting the quality aspects of Australian canola and the market opportunities these present in Asia. 

Executive director of the Australian Oilseeds Federation Nick Goddard said as the number two exporter of canola in the world, Australia punches well above its weight, however there were still challenges.

“Australia needs to better exploit and market its strong quality aspects of canola such as high oil content and low moisture levels,” Goddard said. “These attributes place us in a highly competitive position compared to our major competitors.” 

According to director agribusiness research with ANZ, Michael Whitehead, Australia will need to lift grain production to 35 million tonnes by 2030 to maintain its Asian market share.

Approximately 50% of Australian grain exports currently go to five key Asian markets – Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India.

Speakers told the conference that while Australia is a strong supplier of noodle wheat into Asia, the U.S. holds a strong position in the supply of high protein wheats for baking.

Managing director of global miller Interflour told delegates Australia needed a hard wheat with better water absorption and extensibility that could compete with the U.S. hard varieties in the production of Asian breads.

The conference also heard from Australian grain marketers and handlers who presented 2013-14 crop data by region, which showed that growers were responding to end-user market signals by choosing newer wheat and barley varieties that better met market requirements. 

Glencore General Manager Logistics and Commercial Relations Jonathan Wilson, said the company’s southern Australia crop data showed a significant trend to Australian Hard (AH) wheat varieties such as MACE, replacing traditional APW varieties such as Wyalkatchem. 

He also said new barley varieties such as Hindmarsh and Commander were now dominating production.

Graincorp and CBH also provided an overview of their 2013-14 crop information, highlighting the better than expected yields in WA and above average protein levels in Queensland and northern NSW.