French analysts have revised down their expectations for the country’s milling wheat harvest, but UK traders are eyeing export opportunities to North Africa.
Early results suggest wheat in the UK has not suffered the yield or quality issues that affected both barley and oilseed rape this year, but the extent of the UK’s ability to capitalise on France’s poor harvest requires a better indication of the state of our own wheat harvest, which should be by the end of this month, according to crop supplier KWS Group.
It said basic assumptions “based on the planted area and past experience” suggest the UK will be well-placed to pick some of the demand vacated by France.
Jonathan Lane, trading director at Gleadell Agriculture, said: “This is exactly the scenario we encouraged growers to consider when making variety choices. It is only the arrival of high yielding milling wheats, such as KWS Lili, that have enabled us to capitalise on this opportunity.”
He added that if the milling and baking industry was still where it was three years ago - with about 17% of the UK wheat crop consisting of Group 1 and 2 varieties - we would only be able to cover our domestic requirements: “But fortunately that is no longer the case.”
He said the introduction of KWS Lili and other high-yielding milling wheats has expanded exporters’ options and given them “greater ability to target premium markets that deliver value for growers. Assuming 75% of the UK milling crop meets specification then we could have up to 1m tonnes of suitable exportable surplus.”
Meeting quality specification will be fundamental to any success, but the requirements of most export markets are far less demanding than those of UK millers.
In May KWS launched two new wheat varieties that offer high yields of grain suitable for biscuit and cake flours.