October 19, 2011
UK rapeseed exports nearly on par with wheat
UK rapeseed shipments nearly reached the achievement of matching wheat exports.
The UK, a major European Union grower of both crops, exported 162,050 tonnes of rapeseed in August, according to customs data.
The figure was more than twice that of August 2010. Indeed, it was more than the UK has managed in many full years, such as 2009-10, when shipments came in below 100,000 tonnes.
Rapeseed exports also came within 900 tonnes of matching those for wheat, which are typically far bigger. UK wheat exports last season were six times the size of rapeseed shipments.
Demand for rapeseed has soared following disappointing Polish and, especially, German harvests, which have left the European Union, the world's top consumer, facing a three million tonne deficit of the oilseed, mainly used for making biodiesel.
The UK, which typically exports rapeseed to continental Europe, enjoyed a record harvest, backed by record sowings, which are believed to have risen further for the 2012 harvest.
The Home Grown Cereals Authority has estimated that shipments could top 500,000 tonnes this season, up from 433,000 tonnes in 2010-11.
However, demand for UK wheat has declined thanks to bigger harvests worldwide, notably in Russia, a fierce competitor in export markets, which banned shipments for 11 months until July because of a drought-depleted harvest last year.
UK wheat exports outside the EU in July and August, the first two months of 2011-12, have totalled just 102 tonnes down from nearly 61,000 tonnes a year before, when the country drummed up unusual trade from Vietnam.
Shipments within Europe have reached 279,000 tonnes, a fall of 31% year on year, with exports to Spain, which enjoyed a strong harvest itself, notably weaker.
The UK is also expected to consume more wheat itself this season, thanks largely to higher feed demand, against a backdrop of a weaker harvest, leaving less of the grain available to export.
Nonetheless, the relatively sluggish pace of wheat trade so far in 2011-12, when the UK is seen as having an exportable surplus sufficient to support shipments to average about 200,000 tonnes a month during the season, weighed on prices.
London wheat for November closed down 0.5% at GBP46.70 (US$230.8) a tonne, on a day when benchmark wheat contracts rose on Chicago, Minneapolis and Paris exchanges.