Co-ops make super pools real prospect
SUPER pools operated by farmer-owned grain groups working together to handle up to a third of the UKs grain could soon be a reality, securing good markets and better prices for members produce.
The success of a Scottish rape pool which handled 30,000t from seven co-ops last year is encouraging Scotlands grain co-operatives to extend the pool concept to malting barley and feed grain.
The plan is also being discussed in England, and the level of interest suggests up to 25 co-ops may take part. Many see the ideal as a nation-wide venture with co-operation among 30 groups handling around 30% of British grain production.
A leading enthusiast is Glyn Whitehead, managing director of Aberdeen Grain and vice-chairman of the grain federal UGP and the grain section of the Federation of Agricultural Co-operatives. "Working together in Scotland on oilseed rape, we have achieved significant advantages. The pool handled in excess of 30,000t from seven co-ops last year and the average delivered price will be more than £140/t, despite the collapse in market prices, which saw levels tumble from £150 to £120 at one stage.
"Building collaborative ventures like the rape pool and, we hope, a similar system for grain marketing, will allow the co-operative sector to remain a big player and an alternative to the multi-nationals. It should allow us to consolidate a position we already have as preferred suppliers to a number of major customers.
The Scottish co-ops are already determining the needs of individual customers, ranging from favoured varieties through screening and nitrogen tolerances to delivery timing. *