Tough times in supply industry

1 May 1998

Tough times in supply industry

LATEST company results show more evidence of tough times in the agricultural supply industry.

Carrs saw profits plunge 66% to £583,000 in the six months to Feb 28, 1998. The Carlisle-based firm blames lower animal feed and fertiliser prices, down about 15%.

The mild winter, early spring, high value of sterling and lower farm commodity values had a "disastrous" effect on those in the supply business, said chairman, David Newton.

Norsk Hydro has also felt the brunt of lower fertiliser prices, announcing a 56% fall in operating earnings from agriculture to £30m in the first quarter of this year.

According to Hydro Agris chairman, Tony Robinson, the year-on-year drop in UK fertiliser prices is between 15% and 20%, with on-farm ammonium nitrate now costing about £105/t.

Tight cash-flows mean there will be little early-season buying bet-ween July and September this year, predicts Mr Robinson. "Hand-to-mouth marketing is something that we have to live with."

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