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 around 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 the Ukraine, and the Soil Association warned the suspension could hit availability and prices of organic feed. Retailers were warned this could have a knock on effect on organic meat prices.
However, Peter Griffin, nutritionist at organic specialist feed compounder Hi Peak, said the impact has not been as dramatic as initially feared, and supplies of organic raw materials are set to be “fair” this autumn. “I’m optimistic that I can get what our customers need,” he said.
Liz Bowles, head of farming at the Soil Association, agreed the situation has improved since the spring, with a much smaller price rise than initially expected
“The de-certification of feed suppliers in the Ukraine did impact on the price of organic feed however over the last few months price seems to have levelled out,” she said. “Supply of organic feed has not been reported to be an issue as other countries have filled the demand.”
The UK organic cereal acreage is currently around 42,000 hectares 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 import raw materials. “We are pretty poor at growing what we require, and that has to change going forward,” said Griffin.
He warned the UK will have to become more self-sufficient in organic feed components if it is to avoid price fluctuations in the future.
“Demand for organic product is increasing, and we need the raw materials to keep supply in line with that demand,” he added.
The Soil Association has also called for improved self-sustainability on organic feed, and is putting pressure on Defra to allow other protein sources to be used in organic farming. “The Soil Association is also working with alternative suppliers of organic feed to develop a more integrated approach to the supply chain that will benefit them and the farmers, helping to keep prices steady,” said Bowles