According to the Home Grown Cereals Authority the UK oat crop in 2014 is provisionally estimated at 828Kt by DEFRA.
While this represents a 14% decline from last season’s exceptional crop, it is still 20% above the average for 2008-2012, and the second largest crop in 40 years (behind last year). Although the area planted to oats is estimated to have fallen by 23% to 136Kha, this is partially offset by provisionally the highest average yield (5.9t/ha) since 2006.
The first supply and demand estimates from DEFRA for 2014/15 point to a reduction in the amount of oats used as animal feed from last season’s high. Although down 17% year-on-year, at 288Kt, the forecast for oats used as animal feed would still be the third highest level in the past 20 years, behind only 2013/14 and 2003/04. Animal feed demand would still account for over a third of total UK oat demand.
The supply and demand commentary indicates that a larger decline is expected in compound feed use of oats, compared with fed on farm; a trend supported by price relationships.
In 2013/14, UK ex-farm prices for feed oats were on average nearly £43/t lower than those for feed wheat and £19/t less than the season average for feed barley. Last season a record 120.4Kt of oats were used in retail compound feed production.
So far this season the discounts for feed oat prices to feed wheat and barley have been smaller, at £20.20/t and £12.50/t respectively. However, the discounts have begun to widen over the past month or so, making animal feed demand for oats an important watch area.
The amount of oats used for human and industrial (H&I) purposes is expected to continue to grow this season, although the current information suggests at a slower rate (DEFRA). Over the past five seasons, oat H&I demand has grown by 4%, or 18Kt per season (on average); in 2014/15 a more modest increase of 1% or 7Kt is expected.
A greater proportion of this demand is expected to be met by home-grown oats, leading to an overall increase in home-grown usage to a new record of 492Kt. In 2014/15, 96% of the forecast H&I usage figure to be used is projected to be home-grown, up from 92% (465Kt) last season, which had strong imports in the early months of the season.