British suppliers and producers can breathe a sigh of relief. Experts do not think UK feed and food prices are likely to be affected by the latest food scandal to have rocked Continental Europe - contamination of animal feed with highly toxic mould.
Elevated levels of aflatoxins - which occur naturally and count as one of the most carcinogenic substances on the planet - sparked panic in Germany and the Netherlands earlier this month after they were detected in feed maize imported from Serbia.
The discovery led to thousands of tonnes being destroyed in Europe and raised fears that maize prices could rise as Continental producers sought alternative sources.
Commodity prices 30 March 2013
The unusually cold weather continues to keep electricity prices high. UK power has risen by 18.6% month-on-month, and - at £60.63/MWh - is now nearly 30% more expensive than this time last year.
The cotton market has rallied in 2013, driven by firmer demand. At £1,303.6/tonne, US cotton prices are now up 2.9% year-on-year and 10.1% month-on-month. However, analysts are warning the rises could be short-lived.
Feed and milling wheat both appear in our list of key fallers, thanks to a 3.4% and 12.1% price drop respectively over the past month. But year-on-year, the only way is up for wheat prices - French milling wheat is now 7.4% more expensive than last year, while UK feed wheat is up 17.1%.
Exports from Serbia, one of Europe’s biggest exporters of maize, have plummeted in the wake of the scandal, with some reports suggesting sales are down by as much as 90% year-on-year.
However, none of the contaminated feed was sold to the UK and Nick Major, sales and marketing director, at UK feed giant BOCM Pauls, said the scandal was unlikely to affect feed prices in the UK. “We have not seen any impact on raw material prices so far,” he said.
Maize was not widely used as feed in the UK, accounting for just 160,000 tonnes of the 10.2 million tonnes of animal feed consumed, Major added, citing Defra figures. “It’s a very, very small amount, so I would not expect the aflatoxin issue to have a major impact on producers in this country,” he said.
Serbia, which is currently seeking accession to the EU, has been criticised heavily for its handling of the crisis, and particularly its decision to increase tolerance levels for aflatoxins in milk tenfold in the wake of the crisis. Aflatoxins can build up in the products of animals fed with contaminated feed, with milk particularly vulnerable to contamination.