Caution urged over wheat harvest optimism

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

National coverage of an optimistic 2019 wheat harvest should be taken with a pinch of salt, warned AHDB
National coverage of an optimistic 2019 wheat harvest should be taken with a pinch of salt, warned AHDB
Food firms should be cautious about national media coverage of optimistic 2019 wheat harvest predictions, AHDB Market Intelligence, a source for the articles, has warned.

James Webster, a senior analyst at the industry body, told Food Manufacture​ ‘hypothetically’ lower wheat prices could prevail thanks to a bumper UK wheat harvest and a build-up of overseas – particularly US, stock.

However, he cautioned that there was still a “long time to go until harvest” ​and warned that a big wheat crop did not necessarily “guarantee quality”​. “The quality of wheat won’t be really known until harvest gets underway,” ​he said.

Crop condition scores

“Weather is still a very important part of the market, increasingly so from April – July. If we were to see the crop condition scores start to fall dramatically in a country then that would put pressure on markets and push them up. That’s not something we’re expecting, just something to be aware of.”

Newspaper reports suggested that low prices could lead to cheaper bread, beer and beef.

The UK wheat futures market fell from last August’s high of £200/tonne to between £162.9/tonne to £166.15/tonne over the course of April, according to AHDB Market Intelligence.

Last year prices soared after adverse weather – the cold snap dubbed the ‘Beast From the East’ and the summer heatwave – ruined crops in the UK and northern Europe.  

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