March 27 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. raised its forecasts for wheat imports this season as cold, wet weather increases demand for the grain in livestock feed.
Wheat imports in the 2012-13 season that began July 1 may be 2.26 million metric tons, up 3.3 percent from a forecast in January of 2.19 million tons, according to Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs figures distributed today by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board. The country, Europe’s third-biggest wheat grower, is expected to be a net importer of the grain for the first time in 11 years as the second-wettest year on record in 2012 slashed production.
Demand for wheat in livestock feed may be 6.46 million tons, up from the January forecast at 6.33 million tons, according to the report. Barley use in livestock feed may be 3.1 million tons, up from the previous forecast of 3.01 million tons and 11 percent higher than a year earlier. Areas of England had as much as 24 centimeters (9.4 inches) of snow on the ground as of March 24, the Met Office said, with snow drifts leaving some livestock stranded in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“A mainly cold and wet March has prevented livestock from being turned out to grass,” according to the report. “Hence forecasts for total spring compound feeding have been increased.”
Feed wheat futures for May delivery climbed 0.3 percent to 202 pounds ($305) a ton on NYSE Liffe in London by 2:26 p.m. in the city, while milling wheat for the same delivery month in Paris touched a six-week high at 246.25 euros ($314.54) a ton. Prices have been supported by speculation that cold weather across northern Europe will delay spring planting, according to the AHDB’s Home-Grown Cereals Authority.
Human and industrial use of wheat in the U.K. may be 7.76 million tons, less than the earlier forecast at 7.93 million tons while 14 percent higher than a year earlier, according to the Defra report. Ethanol plants that started production in recent months have yet to reach full capacity, and competition from corn is increasing for use in biofuels, it said.
Demand for corn for human and industrial use in the U.K. may be 434,000 tons, up from the January forecast at 400,000 tons. Livestock demand for the grain may be 718,000 tons, up from the previous estimate at 650,000 tons. Human and industrial demand for barley may be 1.83 million tons, 7,000 tons less than the previous projection, because of slower demand from brewers, malt makers and distillers, according to the report.
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