9 November 2001

Adjust those attitudes to exporting

GROWERS need to view the export market as a vital outlet that underpins the domestic price, rather than as a dumping ground for surplus grain.

So says Andrew Flux of British Cereal Exports who stresses the need for discipline when exploiting this potentially valuable outlet for British grain.

"With a lot of UK wheat exported in a normal year, overseas markets represent a marketing opportunity that must be taken seriously," he stresses.

"They should be treated as another customer, although in a different country. It is vital to keep all customers happy wherever they are, or face the prospect of the market closed off to British grain."

In a normal season 3.5-4.6mt of wheat is shipped out of British ports, most going to Italy, Spain and Portugal. But with the task of having to find outlets for a big 2002 harvest crop, due to increased area and a greater concentration of first wheat, some may also be sent to North African countries, Greece and Poland, he notes.

"China could possibly take UK milling wheat. But we cannot afford to be just another grain trading nation on the world market. We need to develop dedicated overseas markets and offer grain with the specifications and quality needed to satisfy the customer."

China could also take UK malting barley. Each year 1-1.5mt is exported, the bulk going to the Middle East for feed. But China is seen as a potentially major market.

China imports 2mt/year, but with a booming economy and rising standard of living beer consumption is rising. The average annual per capita consumption is 15 litres, well behind the global average of 23.

and far from the amount drunk in the West. With a population of 1.3 billion, an increase of just 1 litre a head in China would have a massive impact on demand for malting barley.