TIGHT WORLD stocks and overproduction in Europe mean the quality of the UK wheat harvest will be essential to exporting a predicted 3.5m tonne wheat surplus this coming season.

Pierre Duclos, of Gleadell shareholder Union Invivo, said: “We have the lowest world stocks for wheat for the past 10 years. That means volatility.

“But we are also now a Europe of 25 with an anticipated exportable surplus of 15m tonnes for 2004/5. The question we have to ask is: How will we export it?”

Over 17m tonnes of wheat from the Former Soviet Union and the 10 new EU member states would compete for traditional markets such as Spain and Portugal, said Mr Duclos.

EU members would therefore have to export good quality wheat to Third Country destinations such as North Africa and the Middle East.

China would also be key to the forthcoming season, as it could take up to 2.5m tonnes, he added.