Beet trade fails to meet expectations

21 September 2001

Beet trade fails to meet expectations

By Andrew Shirley

WITH less than a month to run, British Sugars beet outgoers scheme has been branded a disappointment by some quota brokers.

BS reports that only 300,000t of contracts have been exchanged under the scheme, which aims to weed out non-active quota holders and address regional imbalances in beet production.

"The result wont be the structural changes the sugar industry needs," said Duncan Clark of Lincs broker DCFM. "The amount traded so far doesnt even cover the 10% of producers who no longer grow. It seems a lot of growers dont have much confidence in the future."

BSs Paul Bee admitted volumes traded were on the low side of expectations. "Popular demand from growers was one reason why we introduced the scheme. If all those who wanted to buy or sell have done so then it must be considered a success."

Henry Denchfield, of fellow Lincs agent JH Walter, reckoned BS has made a mistake with its timing. "It wont achieve what they want in just five weeks, especially when they coincide with harvest which is when farmers are busiest."

Prices seem to have stabilised, with most brokers reporting trade steady at around £30/t. "I dont think prices are likely to change much before the Oct 15 closing date," said Tony Carver of midlands firm Carver Knowles.

"Some potential buyers have been waiting for the price to drop before committing, but the supply isnt there to make this happen."

Mr Denchfield said at £30/t some prospective sellers are becoming buyers. "Most of them dont need to sell. Maybe BS will have to consider running the scheme again."

Mr Bee denied there are plans to do this, but added: "After the closing date all the results will be assessed and reviewed in conjunction with the NFU and other interested parties." &#42

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