GM poultry feed policy shift hikes non-GM soy price

M&S, The Co-op Group and Sainsbury’s now accept GM-fed poultry

When the big four supermarkets lifted their bans on the sale of chickens fed on GM soy, they claimed it was because non-GM had become too difficult to source and too expensive. Now their very decision to switch to GM has made non-GM feed more expensive.

Since last summer, the price of non-GM soy in the UK has increased from £440 a tonne to £470 a tonne, while GM soy prices have dropped from £440 a tonne to £390, according to Mintec. Over the past five years, the price of GM soy has tended to trade slightly below the non-GM price, but this is the first time such a big gap has emerged.

Good harvests had driven down the price of GM soy, but non-GM prices had gone in the opposite direction because supermarkets had switched to GM, said one industry source.

The switch meant less GM soy was coming to the UK, which in turn had reduced the buying power of the remaining buyers of non-GM soy and driven up prices for them, he added.

Cocoa butter prices rising again

Another week, another hike for cocoa butter, back at the key commodity risers top spot. Prices have risen 16% over the past month and at £3,426/t are now 113.9% up on last year as they reset to more normal levels after dropping significantly in 2012.

Lower supplies also continue to keep durum wheat in the EU on the boil, while frozen orange juice concentrate is up 34.3% year on year and 4.4% month on month because of the spread of citrus greening disease in Florida and the impending hurricane season.

Among the fallers, Arabica coffee can thank ample supplies for a 6.2% month-on-month fall. World coffee production is set to rise 6% year on year in 2012/13 to 144.7 million 60kg bags.

“There is not the bulk in the market to bump the price down. It makes things harder for those who still want to import non-GM soy,” said the source.

In April, it emerged that Tesco, Marks & Spencer, The Co-operative Group and Sainsbury’s had reversed their longstanding bans on feeding GM soy to poultry used to produce their eggs and chickens.

The retailers followed in the footsteps of Asda and Morrisons, which had already ditched their commitments to non-GM soy earlier.

Supported by the NFU and the British Poultry Council, they claimed GM feed had become too difficult and expensive to obtain. They also argued there was a risk non-GM and GM fees could be mixed up.

Non-GM soy producers in Brazil denied this and also said they were producing record amounts of animal feed.