Marketing Fall Rye

Author: T. Allen
Agricultural Economics, University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 5A8


Primary elevator companies, or grain merchants, provide two important functions in the marketing chain for all the cereal grains; grain merchandising, and handling and storage. From the 1983/84 crop year until the 1992/93 crop year, Western Canadian producers delivered an average of 296 thousand tonnes of rye per year to primary elevators. This represented approximately 60 percent of the total rye produced. The balance of the production was used on farm, marketed directly to consumers (users), or or carried over to the next production year. Rye is not a major crop for the elevator companies (Table 1) and less rye is handled than any of the other cereal grains. As a low volume crop rye is sometimes considered a nuisance grain when deliveries are so low they tie up bin space. Low volume may also cause handling problems as it is difficult to ship a commodity if not enough is available to fill a railcar.

Table 1. Average Annual Producer Deliveries to Primary Elevators (1984-1993)

('000 tonnes)
Wheat 18,726
Durum 2,678
Oats 505
Barley 5,649
Rye 296
Flaxseed 442
Canola 2,189
Source: Canada Grains Council, Statistical Handbook 1993.

Rye Consumption

Canada's rye crop is sold into four main markets (Table 2). A small but consistent amount of about 14,000 tonnes is used by the domestic milling industry to produce rye flour. A somewhat larger amount (approximately 68,000 tonnes) is used for domestic distilling. Traditionally, the majority of the Canadian rye crop has been sold on the export market. The export market for Canadian rye ranged from 113 tonnes per year to 739 tonnes per year from 1983 to 1992 with Japan being almost the only buyer since 1983. The fourth market is the domestic feed market. Domestic consumption of feed rye has ranged from 136,000 tonnes to 312,000 tonnes over the last ten years. The domestic feed market could be thought of as a residual market, as once the other markets have been satisfied, the remaining rye is priced to move into the feed market. Rye has assumed some of the characteristics of a specialty crop as farmers are willing to hold it in storage for considerable periods of time in speculation of higher prices.

Table 2. Supply and Disposition of Rye in Canada For Selected Periods (1979-1993)
1970/75 1976/80 1981/85 1986/90 1991/93
("000 tonnes)
Opening Stocks 310.0 355.4 408.6 216.0 298.3
Production 449.5 506.6 756.2 562.4 405.3
Imports - - - 3.6 -
Total Supplies 759.5 862 1,170.8 890.2 703.7
Exports 189.0 257.8 488.8 221.6 261.0
Human Food 12.8 13.4 13.4 14.4 14.0
Seed 22.7 21.6 33.2 32.4 19.3
Industrial Use 75.2 70.0 49.6 38.6 68.0
Loss in Handling 3.7 3.6 9.6 21.0 9.3
Feed, Waste, Dockage 134.1 128.6 173.0 206.0 132.0
Carryover July 31 321.9 367 403.2 326.2 200.3
Total Disposition 759.5 862.0 1170.8 890.2 703.7

Source: Estimated from Canadian Grains Industry, Statistical Handbooks