The latest AHDB/HGCA UK Grain Haulage Survey shows average UK journey costs have increased by 8% since last year.
The figures confirm a long term-upward trend in haulage costs. Alongside increasing regionalisation of the UK wheat market this may, in some circumstances, 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 AIC, GAFTA, MAGB, nabim, RHA and SCOPA members looks at hauliers most common journeys, including distance travelled, tonnage and cost per tonne. The figures exclude VAT and include a fixed cost per tonne to cover overheads as well as mileage-associated costs such as fuel, spare parts and maintenance.
The results show the UK average cost of a 10-mile journey is 15% higher at 4.92/t than last years survey, with hauls ranging from 4.54/t to 5.84/t depending on region. The average per-mile cost of grain haulage for 10 mile journeys is 0.49/t, compared to only 0.09/t 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.
Average diesel prices across the year (March 2012 February 2013) rose by 1% to 142.02p/l in comparison to 2011/12, though according to Defra, hauliers paid an extra 5.4p/l from January to March 2013.
It is thought the delayed 2012 harvest and subsequent quality issues may also have been a factor in the increased average cost.
Jack Watts, AHDB 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 redirections, both of which utilise 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 travelled. 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.