Growing cereals for exports

AHDB generates demand for cereals in overseas markets. Our activity helps prevent oversupply in the domestic market and sustain internal prices for cereals relative to world prices.

Exports of British cereals – total wheat, barley and oats – amounted to approximately 1.4 Mt in 2021/22, worth c.£337 million.

The UK has two established classifications of wheat for exports – ukp (bread wheat) and uks (soft wheat).

Specifications below:

Grain quality measureUKFM
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Minimum specific weight (kg/hl) 76 76 74 76 75
Maximum moisture content (%) 15 15 15 14 14
Maximum admix (%) 2 2 2 2 2
Minimum Hagberg Falling Number (HFN; s) 250 250 220 250 220
Protein content (%) 13 12.5 11.5 11.0–13.0 10.5–11.5
Chopin Alveograph W N/A N/A N/A 170 (min) 70–120
Chopin Alveograph P/L N/A N/A N/A 0.9 (max) 0.55 (max)

Moisture content: The UK exports wheat and barley to the MENA region at a maximum moisture content of 14%.

Why grow for exports?

There is a core market overseas and growers can capitalise on these opportunities when choosing varieties to grow. If you farm within an 80-mile radius of a port, your local market could be anywhere in the world.


Total wheat exports in the marketing year 2021/22 (July–June) totalled 511,097 t, with the EU accounting for 98% of UK exports.

Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Portugal were the main EU recipients of UK wheat, importing c.474,000 t between them – 93% of UK exports. The UK has traditionally been a steady supplier of milling wheat to the Spanish and Portuguese markets.

uks wheat, in particular, is very much sought after by millers and biscuit manufacturers in Spain, Portugal and Morocco due to its ideal quality characteristics – ideal for the production of biscuits and certain bread types that cannot be sourced elsewhere.


Barley exports in the marketing year 2021/22 (July–June) totalled 764,321 t. Barley shipments into the EU totalled 684,903 t, of which the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium have taken the lion’s share at c.451,000 t, accounting for 59% of UK exports. Much of this is malting barley for beer production.

The UK has been a long-term supplier of feed barley to the MENA region. Morocco remains the UK’s largest non-EU recipient of UK barley last season, taking in c.68,000 t – with the majority for the animal feed sector. This accounts for 86% of the 79,000 t of UK barley exported to non-EU markets.

In 2021/22, barley exports were the largest export volume of grain out of the UK, the majority of which was destined for EU markets.


The UK has produced over one million tonnes over the past four harvests (20192022).

Harvest 2021/22 brought a bumper crop. About 123,000 t was exported, with over 92% going to EU markets.

The key markets within the EU for UK oat exports last season (2021/22) were the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Spain, which, between them, imported c.98,000 t.

The USA and Canada are the largest non-European recipients of UK oats, taking in c.3,700 t between them in 2021/22, followed by the Far East – c.1,700 t of UK oats were exported to the Far East region in the same crop year, with the largest recipients being China/Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.

Research your potential markets 

If you want to grow for export, talk to potential buyers, including exporters, and research their market needs. This includes:

  • Information on the countries they supply
  • The specifications required by their customers
  • The varieties that are most important to them

This will help you decide which variety to grow.