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Cargill opens UK wheat processing plant

A new £75m (€94m) wheat processing plant that will use 750,000t of UK-grown feed wheat has been officially opened by food processing giant Cargill in Trafford Park, Manchester, UK.

The plant has previously used imported maize as its feedstock, but a decision was taken to convert the plant after a strategic review of Cargill's European glucose and starch production, says the firm's Frank van Lierde.

"It was a long term decision - you don't spend £75m otherwise - based on a combination of cost, efficiency and our commitment to meeting the changing needs and demands of our customers."

The plant will provide a valuable new outlet for wheat farmers in the UK, he suggests, and in the process reduce the UK's wheat exportable surplus and reliance on export markets.

All the wheat will be sourced from UK growers through Frontier. Up to 200,000t will come from Frontier's Manchester Gold club members, says Jon Duffy, Frontier's grain director. "The rest of the wheat will come from the open market."

Preferential treatment
But the 1500 Manchester Gold club members can expect preferential treatment. "Growers signing up make no commitment, but we make certain commitments to them. For example, they will get preferential movement terms, load analysis within 24 hours and more regular market information."

Contracts are available to supply the plant through the club, he says. "The biggest is the Gold standard. That's a minimum-price contract where the farmer can benefit from any upward rise in the market place."

The firm is also offering a flexi-contract, where farmers can opt for harvest movement, but price the wheat at a later date for a minimal storage fee. "It means he doesn't have to pay any upfront storage prices."

Wheat specification
The wheat being used by the plant is simply feed wheat with the usual specification - 15% moisture content, 72kg/hl specific weight, Mr Duffy confirms.

But as the plant gains more understanding of what it can do with specific varieties that might change. Research is analysing starch levels from different varieties.

Source: Farmers Weekly

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