Half of milling wheat could be imported

By Olivia Cooper

MILLERS could have to import almost half their milling wheat requirement this year, due to quality problems in the smallest UK wheat crop for 13 years.

The Home-Grown Cereals Authoritys cereal quality survey shows great variation.

It reveals a definite trend towards low Hagbergs and poor specific weights, although protein content is generally higher than last year.

The HGCA says only 53% of Group 1 and 2 wheats reach a reduced breadmaking specification of 200 Hagberg, 12.5% protein and 74kg/hl.

Coupled with a near-30% drop in the total wheat crop, millers could be faced with a challenge, says NABIM director general, Alex Waugh.

“It is likely that imports of quality grain will increase.”

Peter Jones, wheat director of Rank Hovis, says: “The main problem will be maintaining a constant supply – we need farmers to keep selling throughout the season.”

But Grainfarmers milling wheat trader James Ross says: “UK millers are able to use a high variance of wheat quality – even down to 120 Hagberg and 11% protein.

“Although this years crop may not meet all the exact criteria, it is still useable as milling wheat.”

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