By FWi staff

THE straights market has been buoyant this season – but the tonnages traded are down.

It could be like treading water next year, said Charles Waldron of Mole Valley farmers. But he was optimistic that the lower trend will be arrested, if not turned round, in the coming year.

There has also been a steady decline in straights prices over a year which was described as crazy by Peter List of Dalgety, reaching market lows in September.

Maize gluten home-produced pellets fell away to £74/t and home-produced meal dropped to £68/t. Soya-bean meal hi-pro was also at a low at £134/t, and Brazilian 48% pellets had fallen back at £121/t.

Most farmers had bought the majority of winter cover before values fell, and merchants saw more contract defaults than they had for many years.

Demand for soya has risen despite the crisis that has been seen in the pig industry, and many merchants expected to see a decline as the number of sows were reduced. However, this is not happening quickly, said Martin Douglas of Cargill plc.

Soya values over the season have mimicked the trend on the Chicago Board of Trade, while the demand for liquid molasses has declined due to the price-competitiveness of other raw materials.

Farmers have been prepared to buy a number of commodities that they would not have usually purchased, said Mr Douglas. He put this down to the price and the fact that farmers have been more cost-conscious this year.

Perhaps the biggest fall in demand seen this year was in fishmeal. The fishmeal market has been depressed for some time, said Mr List, and earlier this month prices hit an all-time low.