Is maize replacing wheat and barley imports?

In this month’s import figures – obtained from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) – AgriLand looks at how Irish tastes have changed; maize continues to dominate.

The majority of the imports listed (below) are used for animal feed, while smaller amounts are used to produce drinks and flour.

Maize

Up until November 2019, nearly 1.4 million tonnes of maize (unmilled, other than seed) were imported into this country. That’s an increase of 108,899t on the January-to-October figure.

In 2018, almost 1.6 million tonnes of maize were imported into Ireland over the entire year, so at present it would take a substantial increase in imports for the month of December to meet that figure.

1.1 million tonnes of the product were imported in 2017.

This table (below) shows the amount of maize, barley and wheat (tonnes) imported into this country from January to November in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Data source: CSO

Barley

Barley (unmilled) imports are up almost 18,000t since October. The total amount of barley imported from January to November (inclusive) of this year comes to 129,042t.

This is well behind the same period in 2018 – a year of severe drought – when the figure was 372,061t. It is also significantly below 2017, which equated to 170,635t for the same period (January to November).

Wheat

Wheat (including spelt and meslin, unmilled) is a similar story to barley.

239,428t of wheat were imported into the Republic of Ireland from January to November of 2019.

This is once again behind the same period of last year when wheat imports were at 415,525t. It is also behind that period for 2017.

In 2017 – a more typical year than 2018 – 274,661t of wheat were imported from January to November.

Maize continues to increase as barley and wheat drop

Looking at the maize import figures it would appear that tastes have simply changed. This may be due to the price per tonne or relative energy values but, whatever the case, maize has become a popular choice.

In any event, 2018 was an exceptional year and imports increased to meet feed demand. So, comparing 2017 and 2019 levels, it is clear to see that barley and wheat imports have decreased – by 76,827t combined.

Maize imports increased by 407,106t from 2017 to 2019.

Where does that maize come from?

In November, 62,531t of maize were imported from Ukraine. That country is catching up with Canada.

AgriLand has no information on the origin of the maize that is coming in from Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Some of the main regions where maize was imported into the Republic of Ireland from (January to November 2019):
  • Canada – 417,602t;
  • Ukraine – 410, 424t;
  • Brazil – 288,685t;
  • Northern Ireland – 88,215t;
  • France – 71,260t;
  • Great Britain – 40,584t;
  • Russia – 31,792t;
  • Germnay – 5,020t.

Where did the wheat and barley come from?

Great Britain and Northern Ireland are the main sources of wheat and barley. Smaller amounts come from other European countries.

Some of the main regions where wheat was imported into the Republic of Ireland from:
  • Great Britain – 124,805t;
  • Northern Ireland – 14,699;
  • France – 29,774t;
  • Sweden – 9,248t;
  • Denmark – 7,056t.

Some of the main regions where barley was imported into the Republic of Ireland from:
  • Great Britain – 106,172t;
  • Northern Ireland – 17,449t;
  • France – 1,098t.

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