LONDON, ENGLAND — The U.K’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced on March 27 that wheat availability has been increased 72,000 tonnes from January’s forecast to 17.018 million tonnes entirely due to higher import expectations. Forecast U.K. wheat imports are increased to 2.262 million tonnes to account for the strong progress to date. Data from HM Revenue & Customs reports cumulative U.K. wheat imports at 1.612 million tonnes to the end of January. Government data shows that import progress is currently running ahead of imported wheat usage. This forecast assumes that import pace slows for the rest of the season.

DEFRA reported that wheat for Human and Industrial consumption (H&I) is forecast at 7.763 million tonnes, down 164,000 tonnes from January but up 14% on the year. Factors contributing to the change are slightly lower than previously forecast flour production, further evidence of maize use for ethanol and the fact that new ethanol capacity is yet to be fully operational. The proportion of home-grown wheat used is held at 77% or 5.995 million tonnes. H&I processors continue to use an increasing proportion of either imported wheat or maize.

Animal feed demand for wheat has been revised upwards by 126,000 tonnes from DEFRA’s January forecast to 6.46 million tonnes. A mainly cold and wet March has prevented livestock from being turned out to grass; hence forecasts for total spring compound feeding have been increased. Despite the overall rise in compound usage, price structures continue to encourage the displacement of wheat out of rations in favor of alternative cereals. As a result wheat usage by compounders and Integrated Poultry Units (IPUs) is revised lower from January’s estimates. However, this is more than counteracted by increases in wheat fed on farm.

The balance of availability and domestic consumption is up 110,000 tonnes from DEFRA’s January figure to 2.41 million tonnes, although it remains 40% lower than 2011-12. With an operating stock of 1.45 million tonnes, this leaves 960,000 tonnes available to be held as free stock or exported. Cumulative exports to the end of January were reported at 530,000 tonnes, down 71% year-on-year.