UK wheat exports down
By Philip Clarke
EXPORTERS will have about 1 million tonnes less wheat to shift this season, following a significant drop in the UKs surplus.
Despite a 3% increase in the area just harvested, both Allied Grain and Dalgety have marked the crop down on last years 16.1m tonnes record to just 14.8m tonnes and 15.4m tonnes respectively, reflecting a 10% yield drop.
After allowing for increased imports and slightly reduced domestic demand, Allied puts the export surplus for 1997/98 at 3.26m tonnes, with Dalgety projecting a slightly bigger 3.51m tonnes.
Last year the UK shipped a record 4.58m tonnes, according to Dalgety. But both merchants are adamant that clearing this years smaller surplus will not be easy.
According to Dalgety, UK wheat is currently too expensive to pick up fresh export business. But the greater concern is quality.
In addition, exports are likely to be thwarted by a conservative approach from the commission towards subsidies, especially following US threats to reintroduce the Export Enhancement Programme.
As such, the company has pencilled in just 1.5m tonnes of sales to EU destinations and a mere 500,000t to Third countries – less than half last years totals. That leaves another 1.5m tonnes still to find a home.