Bulk of UK/German wheat harvest now in, but quality questions remain

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More than three-quarters of the UK and German wheat harvests are now in, but questions remain over the quality of what's still in the ground.

ADM Milling wheat director Lewis Wright told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "Recent rains are delaying UK and German harvests with approximately 25% still uncut, raising concerns over crop quality.

“As a result of this, coupled with the reduced yield of this year’s crop, the supply and demand position is very finely-balanced leading to daily volatility in the market.”

Alex Waugh, director general of the National Association of British and Irish Millers, added: "The quality of what's been harvested in the UK is not dreadful by any means, but what's still in the field could be declining rapidly."

Meanwhile, Germany - usually a major wheat exporter - would have to import bread wheat for the first time in years after rainfall damaged its crop, he added: "The further north and east you go in Europe, the more quality problems there have been, but the French crop has been OK."

Global wheat production forecast down 5%

Their comments came as Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin extended the Russian ban on grain exports (originally introduced from mid August to the end of December 2010) until next year’s harvest.

Meanwhile, the United Nations' Food And Agriculture Organisation said world cereal production for 2010 would be 1.8% lower than its June forecast, while this years's global wheat crop was likely to be 5.1% down on the 2009 crop.

However, world cereal output in 2010 would still be above the five-year average, stressed Rabobank analyst Dirk Jan Kennes.

“On the surface this situation feels like the food crisis of 2007 and 2008. But global stock levels are much higher right now than they were then.”

However, things could deteriorate if Russia's winter wheat crop is as bad as its spring crop, warned analysts at Dutch financial services firm Rabobank.

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