MLC OUTLOOK CONFERENCE - Crop outlook for EU lookin positive for '06

SENIOR ECONOMIST for the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA), Julian Bell (pictured) presented a glimpse of future feed prices for the pig sector to meat industry delegates.

Highlighting UK grain, soya and pig feed prices, Mr Bell said volatility in the market had fallen between January 2003 and January 2006.

Although UK wheat harvests and exports have fallen by half a million tonnes over the last decade, world grain production in 2005 (including wheat and maize) had risen significantly.

Continuing, Mr Bell said global grain supply was safe in 2005 due to another big harvest on the world market, leaving the EU reliant on support.

He said, however, that the outlook for 2006 was rather more hopeful, with world grain stocks declining and the EU's rising.

He forecast that winter crops will be poor in FSU and in the US but stable in the EU. Forward wheat prices remain above intervention and will need a crop problem to sustain it while the market was expecting a record for building soyabean stocks.