“Risk management tools and general market news and knowledge have helped us all to feel in control of our campaigns as well as improve our results”,
When you spend all year growing a crop, investing resources in correctly marketing your grain is a no brainer, says Pete Collins, partner at M J & S C Collins. Farming in excess of 1200ha on the Essex-Hertfordshire border, the Collins enterprise has worked with grain market disruptors, CRM AgriCommodities, since 2016. In 2019 they will market a predicted harvest of 6,250T of wheat, 700T of barley and 450T of soya beans using CRM AgriCommodities’ bespoke grain marketing strategy for their business.
Working with CRM AgriCommodities has directly saved time and improved business organisation and cash flow, making the most of risk management tools including insurance products like options within grain trading as part of their strategy. “Risk management tools and general market news and knowledge have helped us all to feel in control of our campaigns as well as improve our results”, says Pete Collins.
For Pete, the results of having a completely independent strategy soon became apparent: “Our ‘de-risking’ policy prior to working with CRM AgriCommodities was to allocate 2,000T of grain to a merchant pool, however following the first year working together we reduced this to 1,000T and have since reduced this to 0T. The reason for this is the added layer of information we feel we have gained by working with CRM AgriCommodities, which has subsequently enabled us to beat the merchants pool average, by a considerable amount in many cases.”
How the Collins’ enterprise operates has also changed since working with CRM AgriCommodities, explains Pete: “We communicate with CRM before and during sales negotiations, as well as having reached out to new merchants, which we have sold a considerable tonnage through and would not have been in contact with if CRM had not provided some very relevant information of bids they had available”.
Pete continues: “We have adopted a strategy that involves ‘little and often’ sales, often referred to as ‘feeding the ducks’ between ourselves. Gone are the days of fixing large 1,500T amounts with merchants, which was our strategy before working with the team at CRM AgriCommodities”.
The farming enterprise, managed by John Haynes, farm manager of seven years, also employs three further full-time employees, as well as two annual Harper Adams placement students. Alongside the bespoke marketing strategy, Pete also advocates attending CRM AgriCommodities’ grain marketing courses and conferences, to equip farmers with independent knowledge of the grain marketing tools available.
Pete, who is also contract growing 160ha of sugar beet for British Sugar for the 2018-19 campaign, is one of five partners at M J & S C Collins alongside Michael, Christine, Simon and Jane Collins. The family started farming in the Matching area in 1961 when Michael and Christine Collins bought Kingston’s Farm. Today, Michael & Christine Collins enjoy retirement and Simon, their son, and his son Pete run the commercial side of the business as well as working together with John to ensure the agricultural side is run as efficiently as possible alongside complimentary diversification enterprises.
“CRM AgriCommodities have provided a great introduction to a number of risk management tools and I would encourage growers of all sizes to attend a grain trading course with CRM Agri to learn more about how they can tailor a service to suit each business.” Pete continued: “It’s not a blanket service for everyone – they really get to know both the individual and the business, and then work out how to best move forward. After all, we spend all year growing the crops; why only spend a few minutes selling it for what it’s worth? Timing is everything.”