APRIL 2017

“It is heading to that time of year when the UK interest in old crop is waning fast and eyes are open for new crop opportunities,” reports Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “This generally makes market reporting something of a dull pastime, there being little new activity on old crop movements to report and simple guesses as to what might be likely come harvest.

“Winter bean crops have looked generally good since establishment and little has detracted from their appearance through April, with some very early flowering seen.

Spring sown crops of peas and beans have generally also looked well to date, with many being placed into moisture at depth to ensure good emergence. The month has been exceptionally dry, and whilst there is nothing much spoiling so far, all UK spring sown pulses could do with several millimetres of rain.”

From a trade perspective, Franek Smith, President of BEPA, reports that there has been little to no trade of any note for human consumption beans, though a small number of containers have been shipped to Sudan. Lack of availability at suitable quality is the main reason, and If available they could fetch up to £185/t ex.

Australian competition has been present for months and production appears to have over 100,000t in excess – a supply that is likely to head for feed markets elsewhere. While markets in Egypt are expected to be eager for the new crop immediately post harvest.

For Feed Beans the market is currently sitting at circa £168/t ex. Beans have had a further rally through April of circa £8/t. This is thought to have been on the back of short traders seeking coverage and reluctant farm sellers. The cry continues to be “… where have all the beans gone …”.

At these values they are reported as looking less competitive against alternative protein sources such as sunflower pellets, rapeseed meal and pine seed kernel - all of which have devalued recently, accelerated by a rally in Sterling. New crop is trading at a premium to November wheat of approximately £15-£20, putting trades at circa £150+ ex farm depending upon location.

For combining peas there are still large volumes of marrowfats unmoved from free market productions in 2016. The trade is anticipating up to 40% reduction in production area in 2017. Those sticking with them will be targeting top quality production even more intensely. Shipping costs to the Far East have caused difficulties recently with a doubling of freight costs overnight following industry structural change. It is hoped this is only temporary.

Demand for large blue peas has fallen through the month with most traders having covered their positions. There is believed to be almost no carryover and the new crop is eagerly awaited. Contracts with min to max £200/t payouts look likely to be nearer the higher end at this early stage.

New crops look good - but much can happen. Production area of blues is thought to be up, representing higher yields and lower risk than marrowfats when MF premiums are minimal.

(For the avoidance of doubt, what we locally know as ‘blue peas’ are internationally traded as ‘green peas’.)

There is nothing new to report on yellow peas. Apparently no UK production from 2016 remains. Demand exists and is being met where necessary by imports from France and Russia with values at roughly £268 ex port.

Contracts for 2017 crop are thought to be done as we rapidly approach the end of the sowing window, and it is unlikely that 2018 contracts will come before harvest despite increasing interest from growers.

(Yellow peas - internationally known as white peas – have several uses: part substitute in chickpea flour to reduce costs, flours used as broth and soup bases, gluten free flours, general ingredient thickeners and split peas for dhal.)