UK set to become net importer of wheat

Britain looks set to become a net importer of wheat this crop year for the first time in a decade, according to the NFU.

Twelve months of record-breaking wet, dull weather have contributed to a dramatic downturn in wheat yields.

Britain lost more than two million tonnes of wheat last year after yields plunged from a five-year average of 7.8t/ha to 6.7t/ha last summer – equivalent to a 14.1% fall.

NFU president Peter Kendall told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday (6 April) that UK farmers had planted 75% of their planned wheat crop this year. Therefore, Britain is facing a 25% drop on its wheat crop this summer.

Mr Kendall said he had seen for himself that crops looked very thin during a recent visit to a farm in his home county of Bedfordshire.

“If we got three-quarters of the area planted, and the same yield as last year, we could be looking at a crop of only 11mt of wheat when we actually need 14.5mt of wheat for our own domestic use here in the UK.”

The NFU predicts the UK will become a net importer of wheat for the crop year July 2013 to July 2014.

The impact of the poor weather has cost the UK farming industry around £500m, the NFU has estimated.

However, despite the dismal weather, the union believes British consumers will see only a slight increase – if any – in the price of their bread because of the depth of the global supply chain.

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