UK imports of wheat, but not corn, ease off

UK wheat imports showed their first year-on-year decline in nearly three years as the decent quality of the latest harvest, at last, fed through into reduced need for buy-ins of milling grain supplies from the likes of Germany.

The UK imported 129,483 tonnes of wheat in November, customs data showed.

While a historically high figure, it signalled an easing off in the huge imports the UK has seen since the poor quality of its wet-affected 2012 harvest, reaped during the country's second-wettest year on record, forced users to turn abroad for supplies.

The figure was the lowest for any month since June 2012, just before the dismal harvest began, and showed the first year-on-year decline since February 2012.

The UK, the European Union's third-largest wheat producer, is typically a net wheat exporter, but turned net importer in 2012-13, and is expected to remain so this season too, albeit to a lesser extent.

'Vastly-improved harvest'

Imports from Germany, a key source of hard milling wheat, which saw a particular rise in UK demand last season, fell 60% year on year in November to 34,886 tonnes.

That represented the lowest volume of UK imports of German wheat since August 2012, as the extent of the damage to that year's British harvest was becoming clear.

Imports of French wheat, typically of the soft milling variety, tumbled 86% year on year to 3,518 tonnes, the lowest monthly figure in six years.

The data came hours after Carr's Milling Industries highlighted last year's "vastly-improved wheat harvest" in the UK in quality, if not quantity although it confirmed that it continued to import some of its needs, with harder wheat, often from Canada, usually required to meet some flour specification.

Taste for corn

However, the data also signalled that feed groups, having in 2012-13 gained a taste for alternative grains to make up for the poor quality even of the UK feed wheat crop, have kept up their usage of corn.

UK corn imports reached 222,336 tonnes, the highest in nearly a year.

Traders flagged to in November the increasing popularity of corn in livestock feed rations, as well as for use by the Ensus grain ethanol plant, with Ukraine seen as an increasingly important supplier into northern Europe.

Better UK weather provides 'challenge' to Carr's
UK wheat harvest fell even further than thought
Barley 'best option' for UK spring plantings
UK corn use soars, as lower prices provoke switch from wheat
Agricultural Commodities
Agricultural Markets
Agricultural Companies
Agricultural Events