Farmers’ co-op Anglia Farmers Group sees turnover fall but volumes rise

Clarke Willis of Anglia Farmers.

Clarke Willis of Anglia Farmers. - Credit: Submitted

An East Anglian farming co-operative has seen its turnover fall by nearly 7% amid fluctuating commodity prices.

Anglia Farmers’ Group, an EADT/EDP Top100 company, said turnover fell from £247.5m to £230.9m in 2015/16

But the operating surplus at the group, based near Norwich, was 10% up on the previous year at £882k.

After payments to its members, the balance sheet rose to £2.8m. The group’s audited accounts consist of purchasing co-operative Anglia Farmers with three wholly-owned subsidiaries - AF Affinity, AF Finance and AF Biomass.

Group chief executive Clarke Willis pointed out that while prices fell, volumes grew.

“The fluctuation in commodity prices of energy (electricity and fuel), fertiliser, cereal seed and animal feeds make year on year turnover comparisons difficult. But there has been a continued growth in volumes during the year as prices of key commodities fell.

“Risk management of input costs in agricultural businesses is now a key management focus. Our ability to fix fuel prices up to 24 months ahead and cover a large electricity portfolio has mitigated some of the risk, and in 2016 we are increasing the options for fertiliser pools to help cover this variable. Those livestock farmers in our livestock feed pools have seen the benefit of such moves.”

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Professional agricultural businesses saw the benefits of central purchasing to save time and money, he added.

“We have continued to position ourselves as the largest agricultural purchasing co-operative in the UK and membership continues to grow by reputation and word of mouth.”

The group has more than 3,500 shareholders members across the UK, farming more than 1.13million hectares. AF membership includes 20.5% of the UK’s dairy farmers and they grow 56.1% of the UK’s sugar beet, 40% of potatoes and 14% of wheat.

In its fifth year of trading, turnover at AF Affinity Ltd, which offers group purchasing to non-agricultural business through Affinity and to livestock farmers through FarmBuyer, was up 14% to £6.6m despite fuel price deflation and returned a profit before tax of £48k to the group.

The annual general meeting takes place at noon on June 23 at Anglia Farmers, Honingham Thorpe, Colton,