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Southeast Asia key to Aussie grain growth, China keen to cool grain imports

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Southeast Asia key to Aussie grain growth, China keen to cool grain imports
Recent headlines in the world of milling and grains include a Rabobank analyst's prediction that Southeast Asia is crucial to Australia's future grain growth and China's keenness to cut grain imports in 2015 to reduce state reserve.

Aussie grain growth depends on Southeast Asia – Rabobank

Southeast Asia will drive future growth in Australia’s grains sector, according to Rabobank’s senior VP of agri finance, Stirling Liddell.

Noting growth in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, Liddell told ABC News Australia’s Clint Jasper: “Over the past five years, China has been a clear driver of these markets – they’ve consumed a substantial amount of grain, they’re consuming a lot of soybeans, and they’re continuing to grow.

“But where’s the development in the future? As we look forward and see where the investment is, where the interest is, which economies are starting to move – it really starts to center on Southeast Asia.”

Where Russia has risen to cover demand for grain in North Africa, Liddell said this had driven Australian exporters to open up new markets in Southeast Asia, where there is “new serious demand for Australian wheat”.

“That’ll mean different tastes, different preferences, a different culture than North Africa. And opportunity to create new markets and new demand in the future,”​ he added.

China keen to reduce grain imports

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture says the country needs to limit its annual grain imports to 11m tonnes – 43% less than 2013 – until state reserves decline.

State leaders have talked extensively about controlling imports to cut oversupply because of record imports – China imported 19.3m tonnes of grain in 2014, with import growth driven by sorghum, where imports rose 439% to a record 5.77m tonnes.

Indian state ponders wheat flour fortification

The Northern Indian state government of Haryana is considering legislation that would make it mandatory for wheat producers to fortify flour due to problems with malnutrition.

State health minister Anil Vij drew parallels with adding iodine to salt; he said vitamins and mineral-fortified wheat flour would help beat malnutrition among women and children.

Vij said the legislation would make it compulsory for all wheat-producing companies to add a B-vitamin complex (including folic acid), iron and essential minerals to flour.

“This disease [malnutrition] needs to be fully eliminated…to ensure the birth of healthy children,”​ he said.

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