U.K. Exports Most Grain in Years as Weaker Pound Boosts Appeal

  • Barley shipments in March were largest since 1998: Customs
  • Wheat sales climb to four-year high as European demand rises

The weaker pound is proving a boon for U.K. grain exporters who are shipping the most wheat and barley in years.

Wheat sales rose 28 percent from a month earlier to 383,226 metric tons in March, the highest since November 2011, according to customs data distributed Thursday by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board. Barley shipments jumped 39 percent to 300,499 tons, the most since December 1998.

U.K. exporters have seen a flurry of business recently, including a record wheat sale to the U.S., after two years of bumper harvests left the country with ample supplies of cheap grain. British crops have also gotten more competitive as the pound weakened to the lowest in almost two years versus the euro amid concern that voters next month will back leaving the European Union.

“The strong availability of supply on the market is helping the export program,” Jack Watts, an analyst at the AHDB, said by phone earlier this week from Kenilworth, England. “The key caveat will be what happens with the currency through the summer.”

EU countries accounted for 70 percent of the U.K.’s wheat exports in March, with Spain, Portugal and France among the top destinations. Tunisia was also a sizable buyer, taking almost 79,000 tons. The biggest barley customers were Spain, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

While wheat exports rose, imports also increased. Inbound shipments into the U.K. totaled 143,444 tons in March, 65 percent more than the previous month and the highest since December, the data show.