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UK To Become Net Wheat Importer?

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Britain will become a net importer of wheat from the 2009/10 season (July/June) as a major biofuels plant comes on line, analyst Graham Redman of farm consultants Andersons said on June 10.

Redman said this year’s UK wheat crop was expected to total just 14.3 million tonnes, well below last year’s 17.2 million due to a drop in both planted area and anticipated yields.

The expected start-up of a new biofuels plant, which will use about 1.1 million tonnes of wheat per year, should also help to restrict exports to about 1.0 million tonnes in 2009/10, and boost imports to around 1.2 million, he told Reuters at Britain’s major trade show for the arable sector, Cereals 2009.

“This is quite a bullish sign for wheat prices in the UK compared with those in other parts of Europe in the coming year,” he said.

Britain’s farm ministry earlier this month forecast the 2008/09 exportable surplus at 3.7 million tonnes and imports at 1.1 million with Spain and the Netherlands the major markets for UK wheat.

Redman forecast the trend will continue in 2010/11 with a second biofuels plant expected to come on line. He put exports for that season at 700,000 tonnes and imports at 1.3 million.

Biofuels firm Ensus is getting set to start-up a bioethanol plant in Wilton, northeast England, while next year Vivergo should complete a similar size plant in Hull, eastern England.

Redman said both are likely to at least partly rely on imports of wheat.

“The Ensus and Vivergo plants are both located at deep water ports and that it not coincidental,” he said.



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