Wheat imports for milling are on the rise, according to import and export data.

UK flour millers using wheat for both starch and bioethanol have increasingly turned to imported wheat. This month saw a usage of 93,700t of imported wheat, a 7% increase from January and a significant 22% rise compared to February the previous year.

Consequently, the share of imported wheat in the milling process jumped to 19.3%, marking the second highest level of reliance on imported wheat since September 2021. This trend underscores concerns over the subpar quality of 2023’s harvest and the uncertainties surrounding the output for 2024.

READ MORE | AHDB warns of import increase amid poor winter crop conditions

Looking ahead, the demand for importing wheat is expected to persist, propelled by stock levels of imported wheat and the current pricing dynamics.

As of April 4, the price difference was notably narrow, with UK feed wheat futures for May-24 delivery trailing by just £1.73/t below the May-24 Paris milling wheat futures.

Moreover, November UK feed wheat futures stood at £3.42/t above the December Paris milling wheat futures, showing the competitive edge of imported wheat.

At the end of February, stockpiles of imported wheat reached more than 90,000t, the largest since December 2020.

Global grain prices experienced mixed movements, with domestic and US wheat markets finding support, whereas Paris wheat futures faced downward pressure.

Wheat markets benefited from concerns over Russian export delays and apprehensions about European crop prospects, despite the euro’s strength adding pressure to EU markets.

Notably, the price for Russian wheat rose for the third consecutive week to $208.00/t for late April/early May delivery, reflecting worries over Russia’s upcoming harvest amid dry conditions.