Britain’s milling industry used a record amount of wheat between July and December last year.

According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), wheat use by the GB milling industry totalled 3.7 million tonnes (Mt) from July to December last year. This is up 10% year on year and is the largest amount of wheat milled over this period since 1997.

The rise in use was driven by two factors, according to AHDB – the first was an increase in bioethanol usage following the re-opening of one of the country’s major bioethanol plants.

The second was the low specific weight of the current UK crop. As previously reported by British Baker, this would suggest lower extraction rates, meaning more wheat had to be processed to produce the same quantity of flour.

Home-grown wheat accounted for 3.2Mt of the total wheat milled from July to December. The amount of imported wheat milled was 447,000 tonnes, the smallest quantity used over this period in five years.

Human and Industrial wheat use is estimated at 7.9Mt in 2016/17, an increase of 7% compared with last season – this will be driven by an increase in usage by the bioethanol and starch sectors. Additionally, wheat usage in distilling is expected to be up slightly year on year.

“If the pace of wheat usage by the milling and bioethanol sector persists, we could see the UK supply and demand situation tighten further,” wrote analyst Millie Askew in the AHDB Grain Market Daily bulletin this week. “However, this is assuming that bioethanol usage will remain at its current pace.”