WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Barley imports and consumption of the grain are forecast to decline in Saudi Arabia during the 2018-19 marketing year, according to an April 23 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) issued eight international barley import tenders in 2017-18 for a total of 7.3 million tonnes by June 30, 2018. The agency also received approximately 700,000 tonnes of barley early in the 2017-18 marketing year.

Overall, SAGO said it expects to import 8 million tonnes of barley in 2017-18, down from 8.4 million tonnes in 2016-17. A further decline in imports is expected in 2018-19, the USDA noted, with a forecast total of 7.5 million tonnes.

“According to data from exporting countries, during the first seven months of MY 2017-18 Ukraine maintained its dominance of the Saudi barley trade with 35% of the market,” the USDA said. “They were followed by Russia with 30%t and Romania — a distant third with 10%. Ukraine’s market share fell in the first seven months of MY 2017-18 compared to same period last year. Both Russia and Romania increased their market share.”

The United States has not shipped barley to Saudi Arabia since the 2012-13 marketing year, the USDA noted in the report.

Total consumption of barley also is trending down. According to the USDA, total consumption is forecast at 7.510 million tonnes in 2018-19, down from 8.010 million tonnes in 2017-18 and 9.810 million tonnes in 2016-17. The agency noted that policy decisions on forage production continue to weigh on consumption of barley in the country.