Export boost as Great Yarmouth grain terminal loads its largest wheat load to date

The "MV Isa" loading 27,500 tonnes of wheat at Gleadell Agriculture's grain terminal at Great Yarmou

The "MV Isa" loading 27,500 tonnes of wheat at Gleadell Agriculture's grain terminal at Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour, destined for Spain. - Credit: Submitted

The grain germinal at Great Yarmouth has loaded its largest ever shipment of wheat, as the weakening pound opened up export opportunities for traders.

While this year's crop emerges from the region's fields, there is still a sizeable surplus of grain in storage from the last harvest, due to a global oversupply and a prolonged slump in cereals prices.

But grain marketers said the weakening value of the pound, partly due to uncertainty over Britain's future in the EU, has generated some extra demand in foreign countries.

This week, 27,500 tonnes of feed wheat destined for Spain was loaded onto the MV Isa at Gleadell Agriculture's grain terminal at Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour – the biggest shipment since the terminal opened in 2010.

Paul Dowson, a wheat trader at Gleadell Agriculture, which operates the grain terminal, said: This will be our biggest wheat boat ever out of Great Yarmouth, and it is our first big boat this year. I am hoping we will get another one imminently.

'Up until Christmas exports were almost non-existent. We have done less than a million tonnes of wheat in the UK, so we are a long way behind.

'A lot of that was to do with sterling and the global supply and demand. When we got into January, February and March, we have picked our opportunities with all the discussions going on about the referendum and Brexit, it has given us the opportunity on the odd day or two to take advantage of the currency and get some sales away.

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'It has picked up a bit, but it needed to, because we were so far behind. Even if we were reasonably optimistic about exports from here on in, between us and the French we will still have nine million tonnes of carry over. That's a huge quantity, and there is 150,000 tonnes sitting in East Anglia's futures stores, which has got to move at some point between now and the end of the season.'

Mr Dowson said the export boost had helped keep feed wheat prices close to £100 per tonne.

'The market has continued to drift away and if it had not been for those boats, we might have seen prices down into the low 90s, but it has stayed in the high 90s on the farm,' he said.

'At least it gives a level of support to East Anglia farmers with this export programme going on. Without it, beyond the end of March, it is very difficult to sell anything. There is no demand.

'It is going to be challenging. We have had three years of good crops around the world. If we have another one we will carry on with these low prices.'

How are low grain prices affecting your business? Contact chris.hill@archant.co.uk.

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