By FWi staff

WORLDWIDE straights values are expected to remain depressed on forward markets this year on the back of bumper soya and maize harvests for the second year running.

But few buyers are taking advantage of the low prices because of uncertainty over the future acceptability of animal feeds containing genetically modified ingredients.

Spot sales have not suffered – its just the futures that are down.

“They were down last year because of the state of the market and theyre down this year because of the GM issue,” said Ian Tremain of Mole Valley Farmers.

As farmers become wary of buying soya – the crop most associated with genetic modification – interest has grown in alternative protein products.

Producers are especially interested in peas, beans, home grown pulses and distillers by-products.

“But these are all more expensive than soya,” noted Mr Tremain.

Distillers dried imported meal was withdrawn from the spot market this week as the increase in demand squeezed market supplies further.

Fishmeal was the other big mover in an otherwise stagnant market, falling £47 to £330/t.

Traders believe fishmeal has been over-valued in the past year compared with other proteins, and plentiful fish stocks worldwide have contributed to this fall.

Ian Pike, of the International Fish Meal and Oil Manufacturers Association, agreed that fishmeal production is now back on track following the effects of El Niño last year.

Fishmeal values are returning to a more normal value following the shortage and price hike experienced in 1998, he said.

Mr Pike believes prices should start to level off now, although he admitted that the market is a little unpredictable.

“When people buy fishmeal, prices could go back up, although they should stay where they are for a while,” he concluded.