China has purchased at least one million tonnes of Canadian barley as it seeks feed for the rebuilding of its pig herds.
It has also been snapping up options on European barley, primarily from France, with reports putting the volumes bought through Paris as between 1-2 million tonnes.
The Chinese have also put in large forward purchases as they seek to make up the volumes of grain traditionally bought from Australia.
Tensions between Beijing and Canberra saw a prohibitive 80.5 per cent tariff slapped on Australian barley last year.
Ukraine might also be called upon to make up the grain volume being sought by Chinese buyers.
The advance sales, with most of the barley expected to be shipped during the summer months, has lifted the price above that of wheat.
In addition to supplying animal feed, China is also purchasing malting barley for its beer industry.
The European Union is the world’s top barley exporter. However, of its members only France is fully accepted by the Chineses as a supplier of barley.
France is also a major supplier of wheat to China, though its barley sales to Beijing are likely to be even more substantial this season.
Between August and December last year, Canada shipped 1.5 million tonnes of barley to China – matching last season’s total volume.