Job profile: What it’s like to be a grain trader

The range of job opportunities in agriculture is huge. Farmers Weekly talks to a grain trader people to get an insight into what they do.

Name Daniel Sedgwick

Job title Milling wheat trader

Company Gleadell Agriculture

Age 25

See also: Job opportunities on the Farmers Weekly job site

Sum up your job

To trade milling wheat from our UK farmer customers to domestic and international end users, ensuring purchases are correctly allocated to the right home and are executed effectively and profitably.

What does this involve day-to-day?

No two days are the same. Each involves a variety of different skills and tasks, including, as part of the trading team, overseeing farm grain pricing, managing purchases from our farm trading team and matching purchases to end users.

I also analyse market fundamentals to take a view on the market and form trading strategies, as well as hedging trading position risk and ensuring all purchase and sale contracts are concluded efficiently.

Building relationships and trade with the UK’s main millers is another key part of my role.

What do you enjoy most?

First and foremost the physical trading – trying to find good markets for our farmer customers and drive profitability for the business in a dynamic, market-driven environment.

I’d also say the global nature of the market – it is both enjoyable and very interesting to evaluate the many factors that influence our domestic grain market.

What’s the downside?

Dealing with rejections at mills. Rejections are a headache for the farmer, the end-user and us.

What percentage of your job is office-based?

I spend about 95% of my time at my desk. It is essential when trading a market – it is very much a live environment and markets can change by the minute and the hour, never mind by the day.

What essential skills and qualifications are needed?

The basics of the job wouldn’t get done without a good understanding of contracts – AIC & Gafta specifically – and strong product knowledge across all specifications of wheat that we trade.

When it comes to reading the market, there is no substitute for a sound knowledge of basic economic principles. An awareness of global commodity markets is also essential to understand what factors most influence commodity price volatility – changes to supply and demand, currency fluctuations or hedge fund activity.

Equally important are people skills and the ability to form and maintain relationships; teamwork is essential within our trading team.

What experience did you have before starting?

None whatsoever of trading or agriculture. I studied economics at Newcastle University and applied to join Gleadell through the university’s career service – I have been here three years and haven’t looked back.

What advice would you give to someone wanting a similar role?

Make sure it is what you want to do. It takes time to build up the skills you need for a trading role so patience is key.

Give us an idea of salaries

The rate of pay was competitive when I joined, the company recognises good performance and will reward it.

Staff are encouraged to progress their careers through Gleadell Advance, a dedicated development programme that enhances skills and knowledge.

Learn and work

Apprenticeships are a way to get hands-on experience of a job, a structured training programme and earn money while you do it.

Apprentices normally work on farm for four days a week and then go to their local college for formal training one day a week.

More than 36,000 applications for farming-related apprenticeships – in agriculture, horticulture and animal care – were made in the sector in 2013-14. This figure represents a ninefold increase since 2010.

They are open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 24 and, depending on your existing qualifications, you can enter at one of three levels: intermediate (Level 2), advanced (Level 3) and higher (Level 4).

The weekly wage for a 16-20 year old on an agricultural apprenticeship is about £145, rising to about £200 an 18-20 year old.

Find out about more jobs

You can find further inspiration about the wide range of careers on offer in the food and farming sector on the Bright Crop website.

The website showcase the full range of careers across the sector and asks people who are doing the jobs to talk about what it involved, what they like and even what is not quite as exciting.

Bright Crop’ s mission is to inspire young people to consider careers in food and farming; to inform them of the diverse skills and qualifications needed to succeed and to connect them to a network of passionate industry ambassadors.

While predominantly aimed at people without a farming background – with the aim of changing preconceptions about the industry – the website is also a very useful resource for people with prior knowledge about agriculture.

See more at

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