Western Australian barley industry

Page last updated: Monday, 3 July 2023 - 4:24pm

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Barley is Western Australia's second most important crop after wheat and accounts for 25% of WA grain production. The export value is worth over $1 billion per year in grain and malt. China used to be the major importer of WA barley, however the Middle East became our largest market in 2021.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is involved in all aspects of the barley value chain from variety development and assessment through to grain quality research and market intelligence to determine export market needs.


Barley is the second largest broadacre crop in Western Australia after wheat. Barley production is broadly segregated into two categories - malting barley and feed barley - based on the variety planted and for malting varieties if the quality at harvest meets malting specifications.

WA Barley area and production 1990-2022
WA Barley area and production 1990-2022


There are two malting plants in WA, Boormalt (Joe White) in Forrestfield and United Malt (Barrett Burston) in Welshpool. The Boormalt facility is the largest barley malting facility in the southern hemisphere. Between the two plants, about 250,000 tonnes of barley are malted each year, with the majority of the malt being exported. The local domestic beer market, which includes over 50 members of the WA Brewers Association uses <5,000t pale malt, with all specialty malt imported.

Pilot Malting Australia (PMA), a national pilot malting facility established in WA in 2010 at Edith Cowan University in Perth, is able to test smaller quantities of malting barley using commercial malting processes. The pilot facility speeds up the identification of promising new malting barley varieties and enables the beer quality attributes of WA malting varieties to be demonstrated to export customers.


Most of the barley produced in WA is exported, delivering the state about $1 billion in export revenue. Malt exports generate around another $140 million each year for the state. In 2021/22 the top five export markets were Saudi Arabia, Japan, Kuwait, Jordan and Vietnam. 

Typically 30% of barley produced is delivered as malting grade destined for the overseas beer markets. The remaining 70% is delivered as feed grade, the majority of which is sent to the Middle East. 


Western Australia produces barley that is plump and bright with a moderate protein concentration and low grain moisture. WA malt barley has quality characteristics such a high germination rate with uniform malting characteristics, excellent level of malt extract and a range of enzyme levels to suit different brewing styles.

Western Australian feed barley is low in mycotoxin contamination, has good nutrition and energy content, and is higher fibre than some other feed grains. It is well suited for animal feed, including beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and all types of poultry.

Contact information

Blakely Paynter
+61 (0)8 9690 2115


Madeleine Farias
Timothy Scanlon