15 November 1996

Eager traders push ANimports above average

AT 341,000t, nearly three times as much ammonium nitrate was imported into the UK during July, August and September than in the same period last year.

But the seasons total is unlikely to be much over the 1m tonnes seen in previous years, according to ICI Fertilizers commercial manager, Stuart Beer.

The strong £ has been a factor, he said. But importers are tending to hit the market earlier, trying to secure arable business which accounts for much of the early trade. So he found no reason to amend earlier predictions of an end-of-season price of £145/t.

But the BSE crisis had affected farmer confidence and cashflows as had the weaker grain market. Similarly, milk quota costs and the lower milk prices were bearish factors, said Mr Beer.

However, with a total annual market of about 2.8m tonnes, and deliveries until the end of October thought to be about 700,000t, the market is still all to play for, he said.n