2 April 1999

Non-assured outlets rarer

MARKETS for non-assured grain from harvest 2000 will be limited, but will not disappear altogether, say traders.

But whether growers can afford the risk of a discount is another matter, they warn.

"As a company we support ACCS, but we will still trade non-ACCS grain, provided we can meet the end-users requirements and deliver the service," says Glencore trader James Maw.

From July 2000 the home market demand will be for 85-90% assured grain, Mr Maw estimates. Export may be a non-assured option, but at what discount to domestic markets is not clear.

"It all depends how fast the food safety aspect of the trade goes through the rest of Europe. The UK exports about 2.5m tonnes a year to the EU. If they said we only want farm assured grain it would pose difficulties."

That may leave exports outside the EU as the only option.

"It could put non-assured UK farmers at a $10-$20/t discount to the domestic market so they can compete with the world feed grain prices," he warns.

Some European buyers are already requesting assured grain, says Gleadell Banks managing director Jon Duffey. "We are regularly being asked the question. But at the end of the day the market is god. At some price people will use non-assured grain."

But Dalgetys Gary Hutchings urges growers not to run the risk. "This thought that we can get rid of non-assured grain to the export market is the wrong message. At the same price Spanish millers will buy assured UK produce in preference to French wheat."

That message seems to be getting through on farm, adds Jonathon Davies of Shropshire merchant G.O Davies.

"We surveyed our customers recently and a lot had registered with the scheme by the February deadline. Our advice to those that have not is that they cant rely on there being any outlets from September 2000. Up to that date we do not anticipate any problems." &#42

NON-ASSUREDGRAIN

&#8226 No problem from 1999 harvest.

&#8226 Home market extremely limited post-harvest 2000.

&#8226 Export possible, but at what discount?

&#8226 Assurance progress in Europe critical.