Market Update 8th July 2024

Reflecting on this season it has been one of the hardest to market grain I can recall.  We have seen the downside of the super-inflated values created by the Ukraine war.  The entry of a new importer into the UK market has created additional competition as we now have 4 large players Cefetra, Saxon, Feed Factors and Gemcom all competing into UK feed and flour mills.  Other than Gemcom these companies are all well financed through international partners with deep pockets.  UK growers struggle to compete on volume (and protein) and so we need to differentiate ourselves by developing better relationships, engaging with customers and providing additional data (e.g. carbon footprint) to support our customers.  We do not want to compete on price with imported supplies but unless we offer additional service we are simply operating in a commodity market when price is the only point of differentiation.  There is no way the long, convoluted supply chains that operate for importers can capture this information effectively and it is a means of de-commoditising our supplies.

This is well described in this short article from Iowa State University.  Commodities Versus Differentiated Products | Ag Decision Maker (

The optimistic view on price given in the previous update has been undermined by recent discussions with buyers who are reporting imported grain is again being offered in region of £280 - £285 delivered based upon imported values.  The impression given being that this is readily available and so values seem lower than would have previously been expected.  With conventional feed wheat selling at £180 - £185 ex farm we are struggling to break through the £80 premium over conventional pricing. 

In more optimistic news.  Our long worked on focus on provenance is starting to pay dividends.  We have recently been asked by Doves to become their majority supplier of Lo-Protein wheat which is fantastic news.  This is the grain that goes into their plain and self raising flours and into their delicious digestive biscuits.  Their requirements have fallen in recent months as Sainsburys have launched an own-label plain and self-raising flour as part of the SO organic range but regardless the volumes are significant and we hopefully see growth going forward.  Doves commented that they really appreciate our "transparency of fees", "that we are fair to farmers" and have a "focus on research" which really justifies our approach & strategy.

Doves will take group 1 or 2 wheats and are happy with a blend of varieties provided quality is good.  This provides a premium outlet for the Extase/Mayflower blend Dom has been so keen on.

We also due to have discussions with Mole Valley Farmers about a closer working relationship.  Since taking on the mill at Uffculme and dedicating this to organic feed production they see the need to focus on domestic sourcing where possible.  They also have a focus on carbon footprint and now are publishing this on the feeds they supply which will start to influence their purchasing strategy.  To this end we will need to push harder at getting farms carbon-footprinted in order to be able to provide better data.  Commodity + Data = Product