Wheat imports almost doubled in July and August compared to the same period last year.

The increase followed the hot, dry period at the end of the last season, which reduced yields and tightened supply.

It also pushed up the price of wheat in many parts of Europe, with UK milling wheat up 23.5% year-on-year in September at £184 a tonne [Mintec].

According to HMRC stats, the UK imported 515,000 tonnes (t) of wheat across July and August, which was 87% higher than the previous year. It is also the highest level of wheat imported since 2013/14, when imports totalled 568,000t.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said this suggested the UK could become a net importer of wheat this season.

“Our AHDB early balance sheet forecasts for 2018/19 highlighted how the UK wheat supply and demand balance will tighten this year for a third consecutive season,” stated the AHDB Grain Market Daily Report yesterday (17 October).

The AHDB added that total wheat imports were provisionally forecast to fall by 5% this season, but said the pace of wheat imports would need to slow for this to happen.

Subscribers to British Baker can click here to read an article by Matthew Chick, general manager at Carr’s Flour Mills’ Maldon Mill, on the effect the summer’s hot weather had on the wheat crop, and how millers work to mitigate such an impact.