Farm gate oat prices were around £115 ($186) per ton last week, versus a considerably higher price of £190 per ton this time last year, according to data from the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK.
Planting in England – the UK’s largest oat crop area that usually represents around 80% of the total yield – was also up 50%, making it the biggest crop since late 1970. Traders are predicting yields as high as one million tons, compared to 627,000 in 2012.
“There certainly looks to be a much greater availability than the past two years,” said Helen Plant, senior analyst for cereals and oilseeds at AHDB Market Intelligence.
“With a greater availability, we would expect to see lower import levels… Price has also gone down, which will be good news for industry, and it’s quite a sizeable drop,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Oat prices drop deeper than wheat
British oat prices have dipped by 40%, which is considerably more than bread milling wheat – dropping by just 30% in price from last year, Plant said.
Bread milling wheat was priced at £160 ($259) per ton this week, down from £225 ($364) in September 2012.
Wheat prices have dropped by about 30% from last year, compared to a 40% drop for oats.
These price drops have not only been driven by the larger UK crop, but also by stronger European crops and a global downwards trend on grains prices.
A cautionary note: This isn’t set to last
However, Plant warned that these strong yields and low prices are unlikely to roll over to next year.
“This level of oat area is unlikely to be sustained; the massive increase is unlikely to roll on to another year,” she said.
This year, farmers only chose to plant the spring oats, along with spring barley, to fill the space that they couldn’t plant other winter crops in due to the poor weather, she explained.
“Last autumn, all the winter crops farmers planted were less because it was wet and cold. With lower areas of all major crops like wheat and winter barley, there was much more land available and farmers decided on alternatives. Spring barley saw a sizeable increase, but also spring oats,” she said.