The UK is being left in the, apparently, "farcical situation" of still exporting wheat even as it imports heavily too, thanks to the hole left by a late harvest and the global clamour for feed grain.
The UK is seeing "an increase in imports", traders at a major UK grain trader said, as buyers fill the gap in supplies caused by a late harvest which had as of Tuesday seen only 25% of the crop harvested, about half the normal amount at this time of year.
"German milling wheat, Swedish soft wheat and feed wheat from Poland, Denmark, Latvia and Estonia have been traded into the UK this week," the traders said.
The shortages of wheat have been particularly acute in the north, where harvest is later, and worsened by a squeeze on lorry availability which has hampered transport of what grain has been harvested further south.
However, even in Herefordshire in the south, Agrimoney.com has heart of a large poultry enterprise offering £200 a tonne for feed wheat, an unusually small discount to futures.
While the feed wheat imports may be relatively expensive, and "hardly calculate against UK supplies", they can offer grade benefits compared with a UK crop which consultancy Adas warned this week was seeing "fears of poor yields and quality being realised".
The traders said that with much of the imported wheat trading with a specific weight of close to 80 kilogrammes per hectolitre, "it has obvious benefits for the consumer".
Specific weights - the weight of grain per specific volume, and an important quality metric - for the UK crop harvested so far have typically been below 70 kilogrammes per hectolitre, according to Adas.
Supplies for delivery against London feed wheat futures require a minimum of 72 kilogrammes per hectolitre.
However, "at the same time, UK feed wheat exports have been leaving the country", the traders said.
"This may seem to be a farcical situation. But many of the sales have been on the books for a while and, with the lack of transport making it difficult to haul grain from the surplus areas in the south to the deficit areas in the north, it is perhaps not too surprising."
In fact, UK feed wheat supplies may even calculate for shipment to the US, given the stubbornly high prices of grain there, which has kept American wheat uncompetitive, according to Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities, the Minneapolis-based broker owned by agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland.
"It was tight when I did my calculations. Perhaps about $6-7 per tonne to Wilmington," on the east coast, and a major centre for the livestock feed industry.
"But if you managed to do a deal on freight you could get up to around $10-11 a tonne, which would certainly be worthwhile."
The UK exported 242,698 tonnes of wheat to the US in 2011-12, far more than in the previous decade combined, according to customs data.
The lack of competitiveness in US supplies has been reflected in export sales of wheat which, so far in 2012-13, have reached 31.9% of the US Department of Agriculture's final estimate for the season, compared with a five-year average of 40.5% by now.