Trident cuts beet pellet price to lowest in decade
By Philip Clarke
TRIDENT Feeds is cutting the price of new season molassed sugar beet pellets by about £25/t – the lowest it has been for a decade.
Farmers prepared to book early can get a 25t load on farm for about £83/t in August, rising to £88/t from mid-September.
This price is based on deliveries to farms which are reasonably close to British Sugar factories. Livestock farmers in the south-west and west Wales will typically pay £3 more for haulage, while those in Scotland face a £5 hike to cover the cost of shipment in coastal vessels. But these quotes also assume a 3-4% merchant margin. In reality these could be squeezed, leading to better deals.
Several factors are driving the market down, says national sales manager, Duncan Hook. A bigger than normal carryover of old stock is one – which is also the reason Trident is quoting list prices a month earlier than normal.
An above average sugar beet harvest is also on the cards, lifting annual pulp production towards 800,000t.
On the demand side, farmers are likely to have more home-produced forage this winter, while the BSE crisis also means there are fewer mouths to feed.
"The last year has been difficult enough, given the drop in livestock numbers. Many feed companies have felt the pain. We have not been able to buck that trend," says Mr Hook.
But the main factor behind the lower price is competition from rival feedstuffs. With new crop barley now at £73/t – over £20/t down on last year – and the strong £ putting a keen edge on imported citrus pulp prices (£79/t on farm), Trident has little choice but to drop prices.
The company is hoping that the new rates, which apply to its first 200,000t of production, will draw some farmers to the market.
But it fully expects many to purchase on a hand-to-mouth basis. "Farmers have seen so much volatility in the past 12 months, they are naturally very cautious," says marketing manager, George Perrott. *