WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Saudi Arabia’s barley imports are estimated to hit 8 million tonnes, a decrease of half a million tonnes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural (FAS) based its estimate on Saudi Arabia Grains Organization’s (SAGO) past barley purchasing contracts.

“SAGO purchased a total of 5.325 million tonnes of feed barley to cover consumption demand and strategic reserves until the end of March 2018,” the USDA said. “SAGO has imported an average of 592,000 tonnes of barley per month since the start of the current market year. The organization is expected to issue two barley import tenders in the coming few weeks for approximately 2 million tonnes to cover April-June domestic barley consumption and reserve needs.”

Imports for the 2018-19 market year are expected to be 7.5 million tonnes, a decrease of about half a million tonnes.

“This is due to increasing availability of competitively priced processed feed and decreased availability of forage,” the USDA said. “New feed processers are expected to begin operations over the coming year while existing processors are expected to expand production. The expected reduction in forage production is important because barley is jointly fed with forage in Saudi Arabia.”

The USDA noted that SAGO tends to import large quantities of grains when prices are attractive. This may impact the projected barley import quantities if prices become more competitive.