By FWi Staff

WHEAT and barley animal feed use will be 9 million tonnes in 1998, making this sector the most important outlet to the UK farmer, and taking 38% of the total cereal market.

“The quality and pricing of cereals will inevitably have a major influence on the final consumption figure as cereals compete with co-products from global sources,” said Andrew Barnard, commercial director of Dalgety at the companys annual Harvest Review last Thursday.

“We have entered the 1998 cereal harvest season with depressed market conditions for both the arable and livestock sectors in the UK. This is made worse by the firmness of Sterling, which is encouraging meat imports into the UK and making our exports less competitive,” said Mr Barnard.

Feed pricing has been benefiting from lower-protein raw materials, as well as cereals. Soyameal prices have fallen as a result of excellent South American crops, and the potential record US crop, 4% over 1997, is forecast. Global demand has fallen by 7%, partly due to the difficulties in the Far East, and soyameal values are almost 50% down on 1997.

“The combination of lower cereal and protein prices has allowed feed prices to continue their downward trend at a time when the hard-pressed livestock sector needs all the help possible,” said Mr Barnard.

“The livestock farmer is not only under financial pressure; he is being pressured by retailers to raise hygiene, husbandry and traceability standards – in many cases well beyond those imposed on his overseas competitors. Feed suppliers must recognise this pressure and play their part in supporting the farmer to meet these demands.”

Many mills are now working under ISO9000 assured quality manufacturing standards, while Dalgety suppliers are required to enter their Chartered Supplier Programme and undergo audits. In addition to this, Dalgety has introduced a Feed Passport to provide feed customers with detailed batch-by-batch traceability. Linked to this is an open declaration of feed ingredients.

“The livestock farmer needs this type of support to market his products in the current environment,” said Mr Barnard.