Wheat woes over? UK exports and lower prices to return

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

UK wheat planting for 2014 will be up 22% on this year - good news for suppliers and bakers, an analyst says
UK wheat planting for 2014 will be up 22% on this year - good news for suppliers and bakers, an analyst says

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Two years on from the disastrous UK wheat harvest, wheat processors and bakers should see the market return to healthy yields and prices, according to a cereals analyst.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has released early figures of its 2014 UK planting survey. Findings show that UK wheat area will be up 22% to 1.98m hectares from the 2013 harvest, returning to pre-2012 levels.

“It’s very much a normal figure for a wheat area recovering from record-breaking lows,”​ said Jack Watts, senior analyst for cereals and oilseeds at AHDB Market Intelligence.

“The 2013 levels of wheat were very extreme – it was the lowest area planted for over a decade, simply because of the fallout of the 2012 weather. But what we’ve seen is a big jump year on year in the wheat area for 2014,”​ Watts told

Providing weather remains steady, he said 2014 would see a positive market shift, with increased yields and lower wheat prices.

Back to exporting and sourcing locally…

The expected drop in prices will enable the UK to get back onto the export market, Watts said.

“We haven’t really been active in the export market since 2011 and there have been elevated UK wheat prices, relative to European wheat, in a bid to stimulate imports and make up for the shortfall in production.”

Theoretically, after the 2014 harvest, UK wheat processors will have access to competitively priced local wheat, he said.

“Since June 2012, relative to European counterparts, UK wheat processors are paying relatively high prices. But by August or September in 2014, relative to French or German wheat, UK processors will be very competitive.”

This should be good news for UK bakers, Watts said, as it will secure local wheat supplies for them.

“Assuming all goes well, it means that the UK bakery industry is able to return to reliance on UK supply – there are provenance issues here. Where they’ve had to source elsewhere because of the poor 2012 harvest, this will now change.”

Hovis was one UK bakery manufacturer that was forced to change its 'British wheat' pledge​ earlier this year. Cereal maker Weetabix was also impacted​ by the poor harvest.

However, he added that there is a long way to go as success remains weather dependant.

“The 2012 poor harvest was key to all of the problems, and it’s taken the market until the harvest of 2014 to get over this impact.”

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