14 September 2001

UK pulse price hit by strong £

By Olivia Cooper

PULSES could be the only feed commodity that the UK will readily export this year, as wheat and barley markets focus on imports due to the smaller crop size.

But prices have weakened by £3-4/t over the past two weeks, as harvest progresses and sterling strengthens against the k, making exports less competitive. Feed beans are worth about £90/t ex-farm for September; good spring beans £5-8/t more.

"This is a much smaller premium than last year, due to the vastly increased spring acreage," says John Martin of Banks Cargill. "But we must remember that feed prices are £15/t higher, so the end price achieved is still much the same."

Pea prices have also weakened due to a lack of domestic homes and a limited export market.

But premiums for large blue peas for micronising are still strong, at £15/t above the feed price of £88/t for September. "At these prices, farmers are holding onto their feed pulses and selling the quality ones," says Grainfarmers trader Peter Daubeney.

Unlike peas, quality is proving a problem for oats, which are showing very variable specific weights and colouring. Harry North from Glencore Grain predicts that exports will drop to less than half last years figure.

"Last year we exported a huge amount of milling oats to Germany and Belgium. But, this year, quality is not up to scratch. Feed demand to Spain and Italy is being covered by cheap grain from eastern Europe, so I expect a lot of oats will be fed on farm this year."

Milling oats are worth £65/t ex-farm for October, but Grainfarmers trader Peter Harman says farm selling is very thin. "Farmers think the market will go up, as oat prices are usually between wheat and barley values. With a tighter supply in the UK and the lack of farmer selling, I wouldnt rule out a price rise later in the season." &#42