1 November 2001
Millers expect to import more wheat

By Tom Allen-Stevens

MILLERS have admitted that they may well have to increase imports of quality wheat to satisfy demand this year.

Despite increased plantings for the 2002 harvest year, early indications are that the proportion of quality wheat in the ground has plummeted.

Alex Waugh, director of the National Association of British and Irish Millers, said many millers faced a challenge selecting suitable wheat.

“As a result it is likely that imports of quality grain will increase.”

His comments follow the results published on Thursday (1 November) of a quality survey carried out by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

The survey shows that quality of the main milling wheats (NABIM Group 1) is down by around 10%.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published balance sheet figures showing a drop in overall wheat availability of 24%.

The combined effect will put availability of quality milling wheat on a par with demand, HGCA senior economist Gerald Mason told FWi.

“Millers will be forced to resort to buying imported wheat unless growers can ensure they receive a steady supply stream,” he said.

Next year, the pendulum on overall wheat supply is set to swing fully in the other direction as increased wheat plantings suggest another record crop.

But the proportion of quality wheats is worrying experts and growers who still have areas to plant are being urged to sow Group 1 or 2 varieties.

Data from NIAB shows Group 1 variety share for harvest 2002 stands at 17% and Group 2 “a paltry 1%”, compared with 28% combined last year.

Mr Waugh urged growers to plant Group 1 or 2 varieties, for which there is a very strong demand in domestic and export markets.

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