As we move into the last stages of the 2016 crop marketing campaign, markets are very quiet. As always at this time of year, our attention is very much focussed on making sure we have secured enough market openings for the 2016 harvest intake. The malting barley has all been shipped, that pool ends earlier than others to ensure we don’t risk any germination losses in store. I’m pleased to confirm that, amazingly this year, 96% of all the malting barley delivered into the long pool scheme has been successfully shipped as malting barley. The skinning issue that caused so much concern during harvest was carefully managed. We used the flexibility of Shoreham’s storage to good effect, segregating parcels that appeared un-useable so they could be incorporated later when the market became clear. We were definitely helped by the poor harvest conditions in France which kept demand high for UK barely at good premiums throughout the season. In the end two, cargoes were shipped with raised skinning levels which were accommodated in the terms of sale at an adjusted price- ensuring practically all our barley achieved a good premium overall. At the moment, forward premiums for the next malting barley crop are still very healthy, as they should be at this time of year. The crop may have been drilled but it’s not in the barn yet. In each of the last three years there has been a problem with the crop somewhere in Europe which has kept values buoyant. This season Europe ended up almost perfectly balanced for supply and demand whereas we would expect to have a surplus for export out of the EU of around 1 million tonnes in a ‘normal’ year. In this sense, the expanding acreage in the UK is not a problem in itself, we are merely replacing some acres that have gone from Scandinavia. However, it is worth reminding ourselves that, if we do get a year without significant problems, the premium
for malting barley will inevitably come under pressure. The wheat markets still have four months to play out. Shoreham saw again a phenomenal pass rate on group 1’s this year, giving us the opportunity to maintain consistent quality supplies to our major milling wheat customers throughout the season. Elsewhere in the UK , the market has been driven by demand, and tightness of supply, of feed what particularly. As feed wheat values rise, the premium for top grade wheat’s inevitably narrows, but crucially the demand for group 1 out of Shoreham has continued and we are confident of delivering all our ‘16 crop intake successfully to the highest value markets. We will keep a little bit of supply up our sleeve to hopefully gain from any excitement at the beginning of harvest if the new crop is delayed in any way. It’s the first year for sometime where tightness of supply might have that effect. Breakfast meeting dates have now been confirmed and can be found on our website. In this period of comfortable supply, markets have lost much of the volatility that had become a regular feature five years ago. However, I think it is more widely realised now that wheat stocks in particular might not be quite as deep as the official numbers suggest. We will no doubt take a look at this in the meeting again this year. It will also be a good moment to start untangling the facts and myths around Brexit and how this event might impact our particular markets. Let’s hope for a summer of sunshine (and a few showers) to keep everything healthy and for our politicians to negotiate well on our behalf in the months ahead.
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