CANBERRA (Commodity Online) : Australia, one of the world's largest wheat exporters, said its exports to China have already tripled this year.

According to Australian Wheat Board (AWB), demand from the world's most populous nation in the nine months ended June 30 totalled 740,000 tonnes, of which 80 per cent was in bulk and 20 per cent in containers, or about 7 per cent of total wheat shipments

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That compared with 238,000 tonnes in the full marketing year ended September 2009.

Exporters cited several factors underpinning a trade that has generated about $230 million in export income already this year, including difficult internal Chinese logistics, the qualities of Australia's white wheat.

Previously, flour mills in China didn't have direct access to Australian wheat, as the former export monopoly operator, AWB, only sold wheat to Cofco, the Chinese government's grain importer.

The increase in Chinese buying this year chiefly reflects their wish to replenish inventories, which have been sold down in recent monthly domestic tenders.

Moreover, private buyers have been issued with import quotas allowing them to buy direct from Australian suppliers without going through Cofco.

Indonesia remains the biggest buyer of Australian wheat, taking 2.2 million tonnes in the nine months ended June 30, or 21 per cent of total exports, compared with 2.6m tonnes, or 18 per cent of total exports that totalled 14.57 million tonnes in the last marketing year ended September 30, 2009.