Saturday, August 24, 2019

Independent grain marketing strategy helps save time and increase profits

August 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

An Essex farming partnership expects to market almost 7,500 tonnes of grain using a bespoke marketing strategy devised which aims to optimise returns.

Pete Collins, partner at MJ & SC Collins, farms more than 1200ha on the Essex-Hertfordshire border at Matching, near Harlow. When you spend all year growing a crop, investing resources in grain marketing is a no brainer, he says.

The business has worked with CRM AgriCommodities since 2016. In 2019, CRM will market a predicted harvest of 6,250t of wheat, 700t of barley and 450t of soya beans using a grain marketing strategy specially devised for the Collins enterprise.

Managing risk

“Risk management tools, general market news and knowledge have helped us all to feel in control of our campaigns as well as generating above average results,” explains Mr Collins, who says the results of a completely independent strategy were soon apparent.

“Our de-risking policy prior to working with CRM AgriCommodities was to allocate 2,000t of grain to a merchant pool but following the first year working together we reduced this to 1,000t and have since reduced this to zero.

“The reason for this is the added layer of information we feel we have gained by working with CRM, which has subsequently enabled us to beat the merchants pool average, by a considerable amount in many cases.”

Founded by James Bolesworth and Ben Bodart, CRM AgriCommodities describes itself as a grain market disruptor. It offers advisory services, training programmes and joint marketing groups for farmers throughout the UK, Europe and the Black Sea.

Good performance

Mr Bolesworth says CRM continually beats market averages. “Over the past three years we have consistently realised above average selling prices for our customers, which ultimately leads to more money in the bank each year compared to average tracker pools.”

Working with CRM has directly saved time and improved business organisation and cash flow – making the most of risk management tools including insurance products like options within grain trading as part of their strategy, says Mr Collins.

“We communicate with CRM before and during sales negotiations, as well as having reached out to new merchants, which we have sold a considerable tonnage through and would not have been in contact with if Ben had not provided some very relevant information of bids they had available.

“We have adopted a strategy that involves little and often sales, often referred to as ‘feeding the ducks’ between ourselves. Gone are the days of fixing large 1,500t amounts with merchants, which was our strategy before working with Ben.”

Family partnership

The Collins family started farming in the Matching area in 1961 when Mr Collins’ grandparents – Michael and Christine – bought Kingston’s Farm. They remain partners in the business – as are Mr Collins’ parents Simon and Jane.

Farm manager John Haynes employs three further full-time staff, as well as two annual Harper Adams placement students. As well as cereals, the business has grown some 160ha of sugar beet for British Sugar.

“CRM AgriCommodities have provided a great introduction to a number of risk management tools and I would encourage growers of all sizes to attend an introductory day with Ben and James to learn more about how they can tailor a service to suit each business,” says Mr Collins.

“It’s not a blanket service for everyone – they really get to know both the individual and the business, and then work out how to best move forward. After all, we spend all year growing the crops; why only spend a few minutes selling it for what it’s worth? Timing is everything.”