The latest Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board/Home Grown Cereals Authority United Kingdom Grain Haulage Survey shows average UK hauling costs have increased by 8 percent since last year.
The figures confirm a long term-upward trend in haulage costs. Alongside increased regionalizing of the UK wheat market this may mean supply chains have to look at haulage use efficiency. For some regions, this could include alternatives to road transport, such as coastal vessels.
The survey - based on an online questionnaire completed by members of several agricultural organizations - looks at haulers' most common journeys, including distance traveled, tons and cost per ton. The figures exclude value added tax and include a fixed cost per ton to cover overheads as well as mileage-associated costs such as fuel, spare parts and maintenance.
The results show the average cost of a 10-mile journey is 15 percent higher at £4.92 per ton than last year's survey. The average per-mile cost of grain haulage for 10 mile journeys is £0.49 per ton, compared to only £0.09 per ton for 150 mile journeys, due to both better fuel efficiency over longer distances and the dilution of loading and tipping costs over a greater mileage.
It is thought the delayed 2012 harvest and subsequent quality issues may also have been a factor in the increased average cost.
Jack Watts, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board senior analyst, said, "With the UK being increasingly reliant on imports this season, the movement of additional grain from ports to processors would have used a greater proportion of the national fleet capacity. In addition, the poor and variable quality of the 2012 wheat crop has likely resulted in longer tip times and more redirecting, both of which utilize fleet capacity and increase costs to all involved.
"As haulage costs continue to rise, supply chains may well look at improving efficiency, with key areas including loading and tipping times as well as reducing the number of 'empty miles' traveled. There may also be an opportunity to use coastal vessels to transport grain from the surplus regions of the south and east to the deficit regions in the north of the UK."