Saudi Arabia halts purchases of Canadian wheat and barley

Canadian wheat and barley exports have been caught in the escalating diplomatic dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government issued a notice on Tuesday to stop all purchases of wheat and barley from Canada.

While the Saudi market isn’t a major export destination, the impact will likely be felt in the barley market sooner than in wheat.

“I would call them a significant player in barley. They bought about 135 thousand tonnes last year, and when you consider Canadian barley exports, I would put that in the ‘significant’ category,” says Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada.

As for wheat, the Saudis imported around 70 thousand tonnes last year, he says.

“But every market matters, and the list of countries where there are market access issues seems to be growing on a regular basis,” continues Dahl. “We didn’t see this one coming.”

Cereals Canada is in discussions with the federal Market Access Secretariat and Global Affairs Canada, however, since it’s a diplomatic issue unrelated to grain trade, “I don’t think this is an issue that we’re not going to have a lot of control over,” says Dahl.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for grain company G3 Canada told RealAgriculture on Tuesday morning that “it’s business as usual for us — we keep on buying and selling grain and preparing for harvest.”

The Saudi government’s agriculture investment fund, SALIC, holds a controlling stake in G3, which was formed through the privatization of the Canadian Wheat Board in 2015.

 

Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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