IN SPITE of improved wheat production this season across the east coast, primarily in Victoria, leading domestic user of wheat the Manilda Group has advised it has applied to the Department of Agriculture for more permits to bring in imported wheat.
Manildra caused a stir last year when it became the first business for 12 years to successfully apply to bring wheat into Australia from abroad.
Managing director of the business John Honan said in a statement that there was still a shortage of high protein wheat this season across the east coast catchment zone where his business normally accumulates its wheat.
While Victoria had a better year which has eased some of the pressure on the domestic market overall, in NSW, where Manildra's operations are centred, 2019-20 was actually worse in terms of total wheat production than 2018-19.
Mr Honan said Manildra would look to continue its arrangement in bringing in high protein Canadian wheat for processing in its Nowra starch and gluten manufacturing plant.
Opponents of wheat imports said last year when Manildra was granted a licence that imports presented a biosecurity risk, however Manildra's plans to have the wheat on a closed loop circuit from Port Kembla straight to Nowra, only 70km south, meant the risk was deemed minimal and permits were granted.
Mr Honan said Manildra understood the concerns surrounding biosecurity and reassured grain producers the imported wheat was not going to Manildra's upcountry mills at Gunnedah, Manildra and Narrandera.
He said the company had managed to secure some of its needs for the Nowra plant domestically but added there would be a shortfall without imports.
Mr Honan added wheat was being freighted in from across Australia to keep the three flour mills running to capacity with 100pc Australian wheat.
Manildra has come under criticism in the past from those who feel the company is more interested in keeping a cap on prices than a genuine difficulty in sourcing product.
To help alleviate the issues with transparency to assess whether stocks are available or not Mr Honan said Manildra Group continued to support the efforts of grain grower groups to introduce a transparent stock reporting system, to better inform supply and demand decisions by growers and buyers.