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.
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.