9 November 2001

Sophistication in delivering the goods…

GRAIN marketing is set to become increasingly sophisticated, delivering extra services to buyers and growers alike, says Jonathan Cowens, managing director of rapidly expanding Centaur Grain.

"In addition to focusing very clearly on maximising net returns through the quality of our pool products, we are developing strategic alliances for the future with a broad range of end-users.

"For example, recently we signed a two-year contract with Bolton-based Warburtons, the UKs leading independent baker, to deliver Hereward milling wheat for use in their own high-quality breakfast food products. That type of contract clearly provides improved returns for Cantaurs farmer shareholders and is something we will see more of in the future."

Centaur Grain was formed in January following the merger of two former grain co-ops, the Andover-based Group Cereal Services and Boston-based Lingrain. The combined membership of the two businesses is 1100 farmers. Early next year Aylsham Grain Marketing, the Norfolk co-op, will be joining the group, bringing a further 140 members to Centaur.

"Although we will be a nationwide business we aim to retain a farmer-friendly image with two-way feedback between cereal growers and the board that runs the company," Mr Cowens points out.

He is convinced that having a mix of cereal growers and marketing professionals on the companys board contributes to the best possible recipe for success.

"It is important there is a strong farmer-owned presence in the market place," he comments. "We work in the best interests of our shareholders and profits made by the business remain within agriculture."