Organic feed supplies should be reasonable this autumn, despite earlier fears the loss of Ukraine’s organic status could lead to shortages.
The body that certifies about 70% of exported organic grain in Ukraine was suspended in May following the detection of pesticides. At the time, UK feed mills were sourcing 50%-100% of their organic wheat, maize, sunflower and peas from Ukraine, and the Soil Association warned the suspension could hit availability and prices of organic feed. Retailers were warned this could affect organic meat prices.
However, Peter Griffin, nutritionist at organic specialist feed compounder Hi Peak, says supplies of organic raw materials are set to be “fair” this autumn.
The situation has improved since the spring, with a much smaller price rise than initially expected, adds Liz Bowles, head of farming at the Soil Association. “The de-certification of feed suppliers in the Ukraine did impact on the price of organic feed, however over the past few months price seems to have levelled out,” she says. “Other countries have filled the demand.”
The UK organic cereal acreage is currently around 42,000ha and the harvest was generally good this year. But with demand at an estimated 220,000 tonnes, the UK still has a strong reliance on imported raw materials. The UK will have to become more self-sufficient in organic feed components to avoid price fluctuations in the future, warns Griffin.
The Soil Association has also called for improved self-sufficiency in organic feed, and is putting pressure on Defra to allow other protein sources to be used in organic farming. “The Soil Association is working with alternative suppliers of organic feed to develop a more integrated approach to the supply chain,” says Bowles.