Openfield exports to markets in Africa and the Middle East

Since the beginning of October, Openfield, Britain’s largest farmer-owned grain business, has loaded more than 80,000 tonnes of wheat and barley on to vessels destined for North Africa and the Middle East.

The export of grain to these markets is seen as an encouraging start towards moving the UK’s considerable exportable surplus arising from the bumper 2014 harvest.

According to Openfield director of sales and trading Mark Worrell, having the ability to service large shipments is fundamental to delivering value to UK growers at a time when competition for the traditional markets is intense.

“We are privileged to have exclusive access to one of Britain’s few deep water grain berths at Bristol’s Portbury Grain Terminal where we can load the larger vessels preferred by international buyers. This compliments our network of ports around the Great Britain meaning we are well-placed to load ships of all sizes and respond quickly to market opportunities as they arise,” he says.

The abundance of coarse grains across Europe has increased the challenges involved in moving the UK’s surplus, but Mark Worrell says opportunities exist as long as sellers are able to respond quickly. This highlights the importance of maintaining regular dialogue with your grain-marketing partner, he believes.

“Unlike recent years where the UK had little to export, this season is about being able to respond quickly to market opportunities, either through the inability of other countries to satisfy demand or if currency movements favour UK grain,” he adds.

In the past few weeks, Openfield has loaded 25,000 tonnes of milling wheat bound for Algeria, 7,000 tonnes of soft wheat for Morocco and 50,000 tonnes of feed barley for Saudi Arabia.

“We negotiated the sale to Saudi Arabia in the Spring of 2014 ahead of what we knew would be a sizable harvest. Being able to load Panamax class vessels is a requirement of international buyers and was central to securing the deal,” he says.

“While the traditional markets of the Iberian Peninsula and Western Europe remain important destinations, across Europe there is a plentiful supply of coarse grains sufficient for domestic needs.

“The shipments to date are a clear demonstration of our market reach and further support our ambition to seen as a partner able to serve the needs of international buyers,” adds Mark Worrell.

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