The UK is expected to import more wheat than it exports this season, for the first time in more than 10 years.
Speaking ahead of the CropWorld Conference, Alexis Pouyé, UK managing director at market analyst ODA, predicted wheat exports of 1m tonnes and imports of 1.5m tonnes.
This represented 40% and 150% of the respective averages over the past five years.
Previous years have seen exports average around 2.5m tonnes and imports of 1m tonnes.
ODA estimated UK wheat production was down to 13.6m tonnes from 15.253m tonnes in 2011, as a result of low yields.
ODA predicted yields down to 6.8t/ha from an average of 7.7t/ha, based on a survey of its farmer clients. This was slightly above the NFU figure of 6.7t/ha, which is the worst in 25 years.
“Despite the bad harvest, wheat continues to be economically very good and oilseed rape plantings also may increase.”
Alexis Pouyé, ODA
Consumption of wheat in the UK was likely to be up due to the Ensus bioethanol plant reopening, which was forecasted to be at full capacity.
However, animal feed consumption will be down because of low supply and high prices. Stocks at the end of this season will be 300,000t down on the previous year, at 1.3m tonnes, said ODA.
Those farmers who sold forward their 2012 crop may be more hesitant this year, said Mr Pouyé, which could complicate relationships between growers and traders.
“Despite the bad harvest, wheat continues to be economically very good and oilseed rape plantings also may increase,” said Mr Pouyé.
A falling malting barley premium reduces the incentive for some growers to grow barley, making a second wheat crop more profitable in some areas.