WA producers take a plunge into grain pools

27 Jan, 2016 04:00 AM
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GRAIN traders are reporting a surge in deliveries to wheat marketing pools this season, with farmers deciding to put grain into a pool in a bid to potentially capture any upside in price from current levels.

Wheat prices dipped from the start of harvest in mid-November to historic lows during the harvest peak and it is only in the past fortnight that there have been signs of a price recovery, mainly on the back of the declining Aussie dollar.

Leading pool provider AWB says it believes 2015-16 pool receivals will be up about 50 per cent year-on-year.

AWB pool manager Charlie Brown said the season had been marked by growers using pools for the first time in some years.

"We are seeing many growers across the Wheatbelt, both big and small, deciding to deliver into the AWB pool for the first time in years," Mr Brown said.

He said growers had turned up their noses at the cash values on offer and had decided to use pools to generate cash flow and participate in any rallies in the market this year.

"By committing to the pools, we give growers the opportunity to capitalise on any upside in the market over the next 10 months," he said.

CBH structured commodity products manager Paul Smith said the number of "non-traditional" pool users had increased this year and linked this to a slow market.

He said by diversifying their selling options growers could find market upside easier and snap up more attractive prices than what they would through other selling methods.

"One of the things we're really noticing this season in WA is slower nominations from growers," he said.

"They're less sold to this point in the season than they traditionally would be so on that basis certainly I would say the patronage to pools has been up on expectations.

"I think it's really a function of the fact that prices have been lower this season than they have been over the past couple of years."

Mr Smith warned pools traditionally closed at about this time of year and any grower interested should make a decision on their involvement quickly.

AvantAgri's Malcolm Bartholomaeus said there had been such solid demand for pools this season his company had launched a new pool to meet customer demand

He said the company's Post-Harvest Pool is aimed at growers who have warehoused grain rather than taking the harvest cash price.

"The prices off the header were the lowest in three years, so a lot of grain was either warehoused or pooled,'' he said.

"For growers with warehoused grain, they now have to start thinking about warehousing fees and the cost of carry and pools are one way to participate in any potential rallies in the market.

"Prices are also back to where they were in mid-November, which I think will mean growers will be happier to start marketing any warehoused grain."

More sophisticated pool type products are also emerging.

This year GrainCorp has offered its PriceGuard Plus product, which is billed by the company as an option that mixes the benefit of cash flow with capped exposure to the market.

GrainCorp South Australia commodity trader Lachlan Allen said PriceGuard Plus had a guaranteed minimum return, with capped participation in the post-harvest market.

"The guaranteed minimum return is the agreed market price less $20 per tonne," Mr Allen said.

"The equity is then invested within global grain markets by GrainCorp's expert marketing team."

Iin spite of the chatter around high levels of pool participation, Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman Andrew Weidemann said in his home State of Victoria there had not been a massive swing into pools.

"There's probably a lot of farmers here with on-farm storage and they will look to tap into any rises in prices by storing grain on-farm and selling it during the year, particularly if demand from local livestock producers heats up, if we don't get solid opening rains from autumn on-wards,'' Mr Weidemann said.

"Through the export focused States of WA and South Australia it could be a different story, as they don't have that alternative up their sleeves."

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