The decision by international shipping lines to avoid the Suez Canal is causing problems for organic poultry farmers, who are facing shortages of a key component of animal feed.
Organically certified soya expeller, a high protein, high fat ingredient in organic poultry feed, is in short supply in the UK. The majority of the ingredient is sourced from China, and is usually brought to the UK via the Suez Canal. Vessels are being rerouted to avoid the risk of attack from Houthi rebels based in Yemen.
Ships due to arrive in UK over the next two to three weeks will have their journeys extended by a similar period.
The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) has, along with organic certification bodies Soil Association, Organic Farmers and Growers and Irish Organic Association, lobbied Defra to grant derogations on a mill-by-mill basis to feed businesses affected.
Feed companies have been required to supply, via their certification bodies, detailed information to Defra to secure derogations to use, for a limited period, non-GM soya expeller in their feeds. Similar information has been provided to DAFM by those UK-based mills that supply organic producers in The Republic of Ireland.
UK importers have indicated that supplies will return to near normal towards the end of January 2024.