UK imports of German wheat soar, as exports tumble

UK wheat exports collapsed in October to their lowest figure for the month in more than a decade as the impact of the worst harvest in a generation hit home, leaving the country solidly a net importer.

The European Union's third-ranked wheat producer shipped 90,355 tonnes of the grain in October, down from more than 220,000 tonnes the month before, when shipments were boosted by commitments to meet pre-booked orders.

October's exports fell massively short of imports, which reached 226,874 tonnes as users sought to make up for a UK harvest which, besides being marred by its worst yield in 20 years, came in with the lowest bushel weight a key quality measure on records going back to 1977.

Imports from Germany alone, a major source of higher protein milling wheat, reached 83,315 tonnes, with purchases from France, a provider largely of softer varieties, hitting 32,029 tonnes.

Total UK buy-ins from Germany in the first four months of 2012-13 came to 224,412 tonnes more than five times imports on this route in the whole of last season.

Corn purchases rise

The UK also saw large import of maize (corn) in October, which many feed groups, and the Ensus ethanol plant, to supplement the thin supplies of poor-quality wheat.

Maize imports, which traders say are coming mainly from France, reached 117,180 tonnes, making it the strongest month for buy-ins of the grain since 2010.

The purchases took UK maize purchases so far in 2012-13 to nearly 360,000 tonnes, a rise of one-quarter year on year.

Spanish purchases

On exports, the main buyer of UK wheat in October was Spain, a key feed market, which took 52,064 tonnes.

Shipments to buyers outside the European Union came in at 863 tonnes, taking the total so far in 2012-13 to a modest 2,686 tonnes.

Last season's exports topped 350,000 tonnes, boosted by a series of shipments to the US. However, this season the US is seen more likely an exporter to the UK, especially after the tumble over the last week in prices of soft red winter wheat, the type traded in Chicago.

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