- With grain markets still demonstrating price swings never experienced before, Frontier’s grain trading and digital teams are supporting growers with greater market transparency and selling opportunities via its MyFarm platform
The company’s national origination manager, Andrew Hill, has noted an increase in farmers looking to access live markets more frequently, with many opting to track movements via MyFarm’s MyCropMarketing application.
The tool gives users 24-hour access to live prices, as well as the option to trade grain outside of conventional ‘working hours’. “The goal has always been to give growers more flexible options and given the current behaviour of markets this has never been more important,” explains Andrew.
“Digital options such as MyCropMarketing open up market access and increase grain trading opportunities for farmers. This can be invaluable when prices are as wide-ranging as they are at the moment. With more control, users can make selling decisions better suited to their business and they have a greater chance of hitting those all-important price upswings that we’re now seeing daily.”
“Digital options such as MyCropMarketing open up market access and increase grain trading opportunities for farmers. This can be invaluable when prices are as wide-ranging as they are at the moment.”
UK markets are heavily influenced by global grain markets which are open for 17 hours and 30 minutes each day. This means that traders around the world are moving markets outside of the UK’s typical trading hours, all of which influences UK pricing and can mean some of the best trading opportunities happen outside of what is considered a ‘usual’ working day.
Throughout March and again in May, daily price moves are up to £10/t per day so thousands of pounds can be gained or lost depending on when grain is sold.
This means the ability to sell grain in an instant has never been so important but for many knowing when to react can be a challenge, particularly when prices change in a matter of minutes.
“Recent market turbulence is being fuelled by several factors; the most notable being the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” says Andrew. “With both countries being major wheat and barley suppliers, there are ongoing concerns about their export capabilities and the resulting impact on world supply and demand. As a result, grain prices have already hit record highs this year and the long-term picture on whether this trend is set to continue still isn’t clear.
“Another strong market influence is concern for China’s domestic crop potential, as strict Covid-19 lockdowns in the country are preventing farmers from planting in the key producing regions. Meanwhile in the West, both US and Canada corn plantings are being heavily hampered by drought or waterlogged fields respectively,” he continues. “This, in addition to the ongoing burden of rising fuel and energy prices, continues to trigger some unpredictable fluctuations in the market. It’s therefore not surprising that growers are keen to keep such a close eye on trends.”
While the instant access to prices in MyFarm is a huge benefit for growers during periods of significant volatility, Andrew knows that watching markets all day every day isn’t feasible. “To help users, MyFarm’s MyCropMarketing tool is equipped with a price alert feature that operates for both spikes and floor levels. Alerts can be customised so if a grower wants to know when a particular price has been hit or if the market has suddenly dropped, they can be notified by text or email no matter where they are or what they are doing.”
Andrew also recognises that these trading opportunities won’t necessarily happen in ‘normal hours’. “In MyCropMarketing, you don’t have to wait for bids from merchants or for the markets to open – instead, you can opt to sell your feed wheat, feed barley and oilseed rape to Frontier when the time is more convenient. Sometimes that might be first thing in the morning or last thing at night.”
Importantly, users who trade through MyCropMarketing still benefit from the many consumer, port and store destinations linked to ‘typical’ grain trading with Frontier, ensuring customers continue to receive the best price for the available markets.