Barley Markets

Canada is a major player on the world stage when it comes to producing and exporting barley.

Canada is a major player on the world stage when it comes to producing and exporting barley with Alberta providing 50 per cent of the country's barley acres. 

As the fourth-largest barley producer in the world, the Canadian barley market is a significant economic driver, responsible for approximately $1 billion annually from its export market alone. 

Malting and feed uses

Alberta's barley exports are mainly used as feed for livestock, and malt for brewing and distilling. Feed or general purpose barley is used as feed for livestock including beef cattle, dairy cows, poultry and hogs due to its hard high starch and protein content.

Malting barley is mainly used to flavour beer and spirits. Malt extract is also used around the world in many foods - from cookies and cakes to beverages and baby foods. It is used to enhance flavour, colour, fermentation and aroma, while improving texture and shelf life.

There is also a small portion of the barley grown in the province used for food.

Learn about Malting BarleyLearn about Feed Barley

1. China 

Within the last 10 years, China has become a major trade partner with Canada for agriculture commodities including barley with over 1.5 million metric tonnes exported per year on average.

China's main use for importing Canadian barley is feeding its livestock market; however, in more recent years, China has expanded its market demand for high quality malting barley for its large brewing industry. This has lead to an increased average of Canadian exports to China. 

  • Three year average exported quantity (metric tonnes) - 1,724,000
  • Primary use of Canadian barley - Feed for livestock

2. United States 

The trade relationship with the United States (U.S.) and Canada is the largest in the world and Canadian barley reaps its benefits.  

The U.S. market uses Canadian barley for both its animal feed and beverage industries. Since 2016, the more cost-effective feed option, corn, claimed a large portion of the U.S. livestock market; thus, decreasing demand for Canadian barley. However, thanks to the craft beverage market, the premium and high quality Canadian malt barley has increased net exports to the U.S.

  • Three year average exported quantity (metric tonnes) - 131,950
  • Primary use of Canadian barley - Malt for brewing

3. Japan

Japanese brewers love Canadian malt barley. Canada was Japan's biggest supplier of barley for 10 years during the early 2000s, edging out Australia and European suppliers. In early 2015, Japan and Australia signed their own economic partnership agreement, squeezing out Canadian barley imports due to the high costs of trade.

Thanks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Canadian barley has seen a resurgence and is back to pre-2015 levels.

  • Three year average exported quantity (metric tonnes) - 418,144
  • Primary use of Canadian barley - Malt for brewing