Feed mills are expected to leave ration prices unchanged going in to December, but all signals within the trade point to a potential £10/t increase towards the end of 2023.
Spot markets continue to see proteins rising month on month with imported soya costing £507/t at the start of this week, up £15/t from late October.
Applying transport and handling charges, plus an operating margin, soya purchased on spot markets this week will cost close to £550/t delivered on farm, up £70/t from price quotes in early autumn.
Soya prices have remained stubbornly high since late summer, with quotes for imports coming through Belfast port peaking at £515/t last week.
Many feed mills resisted locking in to forward contracts for soya as there has been widespread expectation prices would fall, given a record South American harvest is set to come onto global markets.
But without forward cover, local feed mills have repeatedly had to return to spot markets to purchase soya and alternative proteins in recent months, leaving them exposed to the full extent of market volatility.
As current spot prices for proteins are significantly higher than in early autumn, feed mill owners indicate they are moving into loss making territory by keeping ration prices unchanged.
In grain markets, barley has seen some marginal price increases in recent weeks, but is generally unchanged on farm, with price quotes around £235/t.
Maize meal is also generally steady with prices in the region of £245 to £250/t on farm. Distillers has increased in popularity as an alternative to soya, raising prices to £300/t, up £30/t on late October.
Soya hulls have risen by £12/t on last month and are trading around £245/t, with sugar beet pulp costing close to £275/t.