17 August 2001

Beet values fall, but trade is up

SUGAR beet quota values have slipped over the past week, with the recently agreed outgoers scheme attracting more sellers than buyers, but prices now seem to be levelling out.

Deals were being struck at about £35/t midweek, says Robert Cumine, of Bidwells, Cambs. Contract tonnage with high mileage attached is worth a small premium. So is tonnage transferred to the York factory catchment area, as the first 40,000t attracts a £5/t subsidy from British Sugar to boost intake, he adds.

Duncan Clarke, of DCFM, Lincoln, says his company has conditionally traded over 80,000t of contract tonnage, subject to British Sugar sanctioning transfers. "And our first deal, for 3155t, was confirmed on Wednesday."

Trade has picked up as values have slipped, from about £60/t three weeks ago to £35/t now, he adds. "A lot more potential buyers – including new entrants – are showing interest. Prices could ease a bit more, but are unlikely to slip below £30/t – it would be a very safe buy at that."

British Sugars Paul Bee reckons a lot of smaller growers are looking to relinquish all their tonnage. Nevertheless, buyers and sellers are now evenly matched, he adds, so prices could level out.

Caroline Carr, of Ian Potter Associates, believes they could climb again. "One or two vendors have said if the price falls any more, they will consider holding onto their tonnage. If they do, demand could start to outweigh supply." &#42