MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — AWB’s 2010-11 season estimated pool returns (EPRs) are higher for most grades this week, reflecting a firmer international market and a slightly weaker Australian dollar, the AWB said on Jan. 25.

AWB’s estimated pool return (EPR) for benchmark APW wheat in the eastern pool is up A$5 to A$365 a tonne, while FED1 is up A$6 to A$277 a tonne and stockfeed SFW1 is up A$6 to A$285 a tonne. In AWB’s western pool APW wheat is up A$5 to A$377 a tonne and ANW1 noodle wheat is unchanged at A$510 a tonne (FOB, excl GST).

AWB General Manager Commodities Mitch Morison said the improvement in EPRs was demand-driven, as the international market shows increased sales activity in a world where wheat stocks are relatively tight.

“The market was subdued through the Christmas period, but we are definitely seeing more buying activity now for grain from the E.U. and the U.S.; indeed last week the USDA reported U.S. sales of over one million tonnes for just one week,” he said. “It is many months yet until the next northern hemisphere harvest and buyers are aware that world stocks are tight, particularly for good quality milling grain, so they must secure supplies or cope with the potential for even higher prices.

“Australia is gaining its share of customer interest and with the current frenzy of activity we have senior AWB representatives visiting Asian customers to help build on demand for all wheat grades, working with customers to help them understand the supply picture from Australia this year.

“In the feed wheat market there is good business occurring, as we had predicted, with Australian feed wheat continuing to displace corn into Asian feed markets.

“This week AWB will be making a A$39 million top-up payment to growers who utilized AWB’s harvest finance for their 2010-11 wheat pool deliveries.

“It will mean that AWB harvest finance clients will have received (or have available) payments representing around 80% of the current estimated pool return (EPR) for 2010/11 season wheat,” Morison said.