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Feed wheat drives poultry rations to new high

Graphic displaying feed market focus

THE STEADY CLIMB in feed wheat prices continued through December, with only a brief hiccup during Christmas week.

UK feed wheat rose to a new high of £197.60/t (ex-farm) in the last week of 2020. 

See also: Consultants predict ‘golden years’ for free-range egg producers

At the same time, soya prices have been supported at their current high for another month.

Inevitably, ration prices have been pushed higher still, and our basic layers ration (see chart) has ended the year some £56/t higher than at its start.

In the UK, the smallest wheat harvest since 1981 will force dependence on imports through the 2020-21 season. 

Brexit

So, in the first part of last month, UK anxieties about the future availability of imports if there was no deal on Brexit had been a significant factor driving prices.

Wheat prices slipped a little in the week after the deal was signed. 

But they have since risen again, due to the knock-on effect from soaring maize prices.

Maize

According to the AHDB, maize is now the dominant factor in world wheat prices. 

Supplies of wheat globally are considered ample by usual standards, but the tense maize situation has moved the goalposts.

There are continuing concerns about the effect of dry weather in South America exacerbated by the cessation of exports from Argentina, which supplies 22% of the global trade in maize.

Similarly, with soya, the dry weather in Brazil and Argentina has been worrying traders. 

There is a late harvest in Brazil, which is likely to lead to more demand from China for US stocks, and strikes in Argentina are affecting exports from there.

DRIVERS 

WHEAT – Shortage of maize on global markets strengthens wheat prices

SOYA – Lack of rainfall in South America

SOYA – Ongoing delays in exports from Argentina

SOYA – Prospect of China needing to import more US soya