Lina at port loading barley for export at Great Yarmouth

European wheat and barley exports are running ahead of last year and big crops coming off the combines mean the pace needs to be kept up.

The EU awarded 372,00t of soft wheat export licences this week, taking the season total to 2m tonnes compared with 1.8m tonnes at the same time last year.

Barley licences were issued for 384,000t, bringing the total to 1.8m against 1m tonnes a year ago.

See also: Five key influences on grain price explained

UK winter barley yields are well above the 10-year average of 6.5t/ha and may beat the 2014 record.

Gleadell Agriculture reports a reasonable start to its barley export campaign, loading vessels in Great Yarmouth and Immingham for feed compounders in Spain and Portugal, including the Lina (pictured above at Great Yarmouth) which loaded with 4,200t of feed barley last weekend.

While yields and quality appeared pleasing, the market was less than pleasing, said trading director Jonathan Lane.

“A combination of strong currency, a decent domestic harvest in Spain and cheap imported maize is keeping pressure on barley prices.

“As yet, last year’s business to Third country destinations has not been repeated, with North Africa finding cheap sellers in the Black Sea region.

“We could see an upturn in barley demand and prices if last year’s Chinese demand for French barley resurfaces.

“But, given all the uncertainty surrounding the Chinese economy, it looks like the UK will be reliant on intra-EU business for the foreseeable future.”

HMRC figures released today (7 August) show the UK exported almost 1.5m tonnes of its barley crop last season, compared with 1.16m tonnes the previous season.

More than 850,000t of 2014 exports went to other EU countries.