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Weekly Commodity Report 16th September 2019

The UK wheat moved sidewise during the last week, with futures ending the week at £134.4/T.  Trade on the London Liffe market has been slow to start, often with the opening trade is not seen till the afternoon.


A possible explanation is that with so much befuddling political activity, people are choosing to understand the facts of the day before acting.  Much of the trading that is being conducted is for the winter months, as post-harvest the industry turns its attention to feeding in the poorer weather.  The UK harvest is 97% complete, as there are only small parcels in the north left to harvest, yield estimates are 8.8-9t/ha, above the 5 year average of 8.3t/ha. 

Sterling gained over the week but has since corrected lower as a risk averse market reacted to news Boris Johnson had made a no deal threat to the EU.  Brexit and its effects on currency remains a major unknown for prices in the UK.  The prospect of a delay would support the wheat price as it allows further exports to be undertaken to northern Europe and Spain.  Barley remains supported both in the UK and EU, but with tariffs possible after Brexit the UK must remain competitive for export which places a top on the prices for now.

The USDA WASDE report provided a little support to global grain markets.  Managed money remains in a net short position for wheat but less so than the week before.  Reductions to the proportion of US maize rated as ‘good to excellent’, to 55%, due to surplus soil moisture and rain forecast in the coming weeks is causing concerns.  Whereas the maize planting in Brazil is experiencing dryness, and there is a similar picture in the Ukraine; their maize market has resulted in support for global wheat prices.  Australian wheat production was reduced by 2 Mln T to 19.1 Mln T as the drought persists.  EU prices increased by over 3 euros but the WASDE report increased the EU wheat crop by 1 Mln T, which limited the gains.


China announced that it would make US soya exempt from additional tariffs as trade talks recommenced with the US.  US soya beans gained $15/T across the week.  It had been understood that the additional tariffs of 30% would increase tariffs to 33% on US soya beans, but the removal of the additional tariff has given confidence that talks will be more proactive than previously thought.  China also purchased 600,000T of US beans with 204,000T confirmed.  This is its first US soya bean purchase in months. 

The entire agricultural sector was also affected by drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.  As the third largest producer of crude oil in the world and with such a global influence, it is easy to see why other commodities, especially oilseeds also rallied due to its connections through the biofuels industry.  Higher prices and margins in biofuel markets increases the demand for soya, palm rape and sunflower into these markets increases.  China also authorised the import of soya meal from Argentina, Brazil and Russia, while reducing its consumption of alternatives such as sunflower, again affecting normal supply and demand pathways for oilseeds.  The UK has seen a reduction of offers in these commodities.  With EU rapeseed production reduced it was expected they too would increase use of sunflower and soya to mitigate the rapeseed shortages.  This has caused prices in the UK to increase for these imported products at a time where currency value is often already costing us dearly. 


This magnificent chicken has done something most humans would be proud of.  He stood up for his right to a voice in French courts – and won! 

What started as a normal noise complaint in the countryside when Maurice the rooster was waking up his owners’ neighbours took a strange turn when Maurice the noisy rooster became the emblem for rural life under threat. 

Maurice lives in his rural home near the coast of France with his owner and a host of lovely ladies.  He enjoyed crowing in the morning.  A retired couple who owned a nearby holiday home did not enjoy it and decided to sue his owner Corinne Fesseau.  Lawyers argued the complaint was ridiculous as the noise of animals was part of a country life.  If the case was lost Maurice would have to relocate or be silenced but it turned out the world was on his side.  His fame went international, support grew, and T-shirts were made. 

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The 4-year-old cockerel became a French celebrity where cockerels are a national emblem.  Letters of support were sent from as far as the United states, 140,000 signatures were gathered on an online petition supporting Maurice and his right to ‘sing’.  The mayor of another town wrote an open letter calling for the sounds of rural life to be protected as heritage.  The courts agreed and damages of £900 were awarded to the plaintiffs.  But the victory was seen more as setting a precedent for the rights of rural people (and chickens) to live a traditional rural life.

Ruffle the feathers of rural life and the passion for poultry might surprise you.

Brought to you by Melanie Blake and Martin Humphrey