News last update:6 Aug 2012

US pig firm to import wheat for feed

Murphy-Brown, the pig-raising unit of Smithfield Foods Inc. plans to import wheat from Britain and Brazil for use as animal feed, a company spokesman said earlier this week. It is cheaper to import the wheat to the U.S. East Coast than to transport domestically grown corn or wheat by rail from the Midwest, spokesman Don Butler said.

The company also plans to import some wheat middlings, a by-product of milling wheat that can be used in dietary formulas, from Nigeria, he said. Butler would not say how much wheat Murphy-Brown plans to import or how much money it will save by importing it. The grain will come into the U.S. through Wilmington Bulk LLC, a North Carolina-based feed-buying consortium representing large southeastern livestock companies.

"We will be bringing in some wheat in December and January to really take advantage of the differential between ocean going freight rates and rail delivery," Butler said. Traders on the Chicago Board of Trade agricultural floor have heard rumors for the past several weeks that U.K. wheat would be imported to the U.S. East Coast. This will be the first time in three years that Murphy-Brown has imported grain through Wilmington Bulk, Butler said.

It is a bit surprising that Brazil would import wheat to the U.S. as analysts recently have suggested Brazil may need to buy U.S. wheat to meet its own needs. Brazil normally buys most of its wheat from Argentina, but Argentina is facing a shortfall due to dry weather and reduced plantings.

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