Industry awaits verdict on wheat after wet season
19 September, 2008
After a particularly wet August and September, the milling and baking industries are waiting to see how the weather has affected the quality of UK wheat.
Alex Waugh, director general of UK flour milling trade body nabim, said yield was lower than expectations, but the main concern is the quality of harvested wheat.He said: "We were expecting a big crop - as much as 17 million tonnes, but that target is likely to be missed."Waugh said that the crop would be large compared to last year, but added: "The difficulty is that it won't be of terribly good quality".Any wheat still standing in the field at the end of last week was likely to be ruined, he said."Quite a lot of what has been harvested is very wet. The stan-dard is 14% moisture, but quite a lot of the wheat harvested is at 20%. It has to be dried and that causes some delay and there's a risk to quality."What that means is there is so much grain waiting to be dried, that we won't be able to make a proper assessment on quality for some time." Waugh said it was likely that millers would have to import wheat, which would add an extra premium to the already-inflated price.Farmers would be unlikely to agree forward contracts until more was known about wheat quality, Waugh added. "Most farmers and grain merchants will not want to sell much forward, as they don't know what they have got," he said.Martin Deboo, of investment analyst Investec, confirmed the situation. He said: "The news for bread-makers is not going to be as good as it looked a month ago."