Good year for United Oilseeds, but tougher times ahead

Oilseed rape marketing company United Oilseeds has reported a pre-tax profit of more than £1m in the last financial year.

The figure for the year-ended 30 June 2009 was £200,000 down on the record year in 2008, but up on the £918,000 profit in 2007.

Much of the performance was due to the company growing its farmer membership by 44% from 2151 to 3100 members. Turnover subsequently increased by 34.5% to £54.6m this year, due to increased seed sales and an increase in the volume of crops being traded.

United Oilseeds’ net worth was also up in 2009, to £4.3m, despite having paid out almost £1m to members in the form of profit share payments over the past three years. The company plans to announce details of a fourth successive profit share at the end of this year, which will be paid to members in the first half of 2010.

“The arable sector continues to face serious challenges from price volatility and rising production costs, but United Oilseeds is well positioned to safeguard the interests of its members,” managing director Chris Baldwin said.

However, he was worried that the next financial year would be more challenging. “We are concerned that next year will be a difficult year. Markets are looking very tight, farmers incomes are down and they’re looking to reduce costs, so we’ll need to do a lot more if we are to encourage farmers to keep spending.”

Mr Baldwin said a survey of the company’s own members suggested there had been a 5.5% increase in farm-saved seed this autumn, and nationally, he estimated oilseed rape seed sales were 13.5% down, compared with 2008, as farmers looked to cut costs by home-saving seed.