Farmer-owned crop marketing co-operative Openfield Group made a pre-tax loss of £3.3m in the year to 30 June 2017, compared with a profit of £1.7m the previous year.
The group’s turnover also fell by 8% to £655m. The loss came against a background of tough trading conditions, with lower 2016 harvest volumes and low milling wheat price premiums.
However, Openfield said its UK domestic market share grew “considerably”. The co-op’s net assets remained strong and stood at £18.5m (£20.8m in 2016), with no core borrowings and a surplus working capital of £4.9m (£7.7m in 2016).
The co-op said it did not suffer any direct loss as a result of merchant Wellgrain going into administration last spring.
Philip Moody, Openfield’s new chairman, said: “Openfield has always managed its own profitability to strike a balance between maintaining our financial strength and balance sheet and supporting our members in challenging marketing years, which we continued to do last year.”
Group membership rose to 3,926 farmers at 30 June 2017, in comparison to 3,204 members in 2016.
The co-op works with farmers to market about 4m tonnes of British grain every year to British food and drink brands.
Last year Openfield made a £250,000 investment within a state-of-the-art seed production plant and the renewal of its in-house truck fleet technology to further improve collection and delivery efficiencies of its cereal, seed and fertiliser businesses.