London, UK - Despite record high prices this season demand for organic feed - particularly for poultry production - is continuing to grow, according to Graham Loveday, organic sales manager for Marriages, the Essex-based flour and feed millers.
The poor grain harvest across Europe last summer, combined with tightening EU standards, have sent prices for organic cereals to new levels with wheat fetching up to Pounds: 280 a tonne. The EU now requires the organic content of animal feed to increase from 80 to 85 per cent, and as high as 95 per cent with ruminants.
"The biggest demand for organic feed is from poultry producers such as Kelly Turkeys responding to the growing popularity of organic chicken and turkey with consumers," says Mr Loveday. "But we are also seeing significant growth, too, in our sales to small farms producing beef, pork, lamb and eggs for farmers markets and sales direct from the farm.
"We are concerned at the current supply situation and the prospects for the year ahead as the consumer demand for organic food increases. For a number of years we have been encouraging UK farmers to produce more organic grain, and we do purchase an increasing proportion of our needs locally.
"But like other compounders, we do also rely on imports and although Kazakhstan has now released another 40,000 tonnes of organic wheat, albeit at a steep premium, the supply situation remains tight at least until harvest."
Marriages is one of the leading regional millers for production of organic flour and animal feed, with up to 20 per cent of its feed products sold to organic livestock producers.