UK wheat exports predicted to have record-breaking year

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AUTHOR: Molly Long
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The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) expects wheat exports to double in the year ahead resulting in the strongest year on record. 

The prediction is informed by a market report from the AHDB, which forecasts 500,000 tonnes of grain will be sold internationally this year. 

This is more than double the volume sold in 2021. Wheat exports are currently up 61% on this same period last year. 

Much of the success of UK wheat exports comes from its pricing, which is competitive in overseas markets – the AHDB’s report revealed there is a price difference of around £25 per tonnes between Paris and UK futures. 

This is a sign of “export competitiveness” according to the AHDB.

Another key part of the success is the fact there is simply more wheat being produced this year. The AHDB says the UK’s wheat production is “rebounding” after pandemic disruption and poor growing conditions, which had resulted in a 40-year low. 

In total, it is estimated the total availability of wheat in 2021/2022 is 16.904Mt, nearly 2.5Mt more than 20/21, which was already up 4.3Mt from the year before. 

The success of UK wheat exports has impacts across agriculture and food more generally. For example, the large harvests predicted means that UK imports of wheat are down 26% year-on-year. Additionally, wheat usage in animal feed is expected to increase by 1.2Kt this year. 

Alongside boosted wheat production, the UK’s oat harvest is also projected to be higher than last year’s according to the report. 

In total, the AHDB has predicted there to be 133Kt more oats in this year’s harvest than last year. 

However, other crops are expected to be somewhat scarcer than previous years. In particular maize availability is expected to drop by 880Kt from last year, and barley by 1.5Mt. 

A mix of reasons, including less favourable growing conditions, fewer seeds sown in the first place, and reduced imports have contributed to the situation. 

The availability of food is a much talked about topic currently, because of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising inflation around the world

Ukraine and Russia are huge growers of grains, with the former known as ‘Europe’s breadbasket’ and the latter the biggest wheat producer in the world. 

Prior to the invasion, the two countries accounted for more than a quarter of total wheat exports.

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