Lower commodity prices meant a drop in turnover at Anglia Farmers, the UK’s largest farmer buying group.
The year to 31 January 2016 saw group turnover down by £16.5m to £230.9m but a 10% higher operating surplus of £882,000.
The group’s accounts include results for purchasing co-operative Anglia Farmers with three wholly owned subsidiaries AF Affinity, AF Finance and AF Biomass.
After a distribution of almost £537,000 to members, a net surplus of £323,000 has been retained, increasing the balance sheet to £2.8m.
The group has more than 3,500 shareholder members across the UK, farming more than 1.13m hectares. AF membership includes 20.5% of the UK’s dairy farmers and they grow 56.1% of the UK’s sugar beet, 40% of potatoes and 14% of wheat.
While fluctuating electricity, fuel, fertiliser, cereal seed and animal feed prices made year-on-year turnover comparisons difficult, there had been continued growth in volumes during the year, said group chief executive Clarke Willis.
“Risk management of input costs in agricultural businesses is now a key management focus. Our ability to fix fuel prices up to 24 months ahead and cover a large electricity portfolio has mitigated some of the risk, and in 2016 we are increasing the options for fertiliser pools to help cover this variable.
“Those livestock farmers in our livestock feed pools have seen the benefit of such moves.”
AF Affinity, providing group purchasing to non-agricultural businesses, alongside village fuel syndicates, continued to grow. Its turnover was up 14% to £6.6m despite fuel price deflation.
AF Biomass helps members market straw to biomass power stations and livestock farms and is set to market 100,000t this harvest. In 2015-16 turnover was £3.45m and it contributed £94,000 profit to the group.
AF Finance, an agent in peer-to-peer lending, saw short-term funds of about £5.5m move between members.