BEPA Press Release (19.11.14)


The area of spring pulses grown in 2015 is likely to increase as growers turn to beans and peas to meet the new CAP greening requirements, manage blackgrass and mitigate falling oilseed rape prices.

“Recently, the area of pulses grown in the UK has fallen from its traditional level,” says Andy Bury, President of BEPA ( British Edible Pulses Association). “However, this season, as growers look for the most practical ways to meet the 5% EFA requirement in CAP greening, we are likely to see the area increase by up to 30%, returning to more usual levels.

“Some commentators are expressing the view that increased acreage will put downward pressure on prices, but that should not be a concern. Prices will be slightly lower, but there will still be a substantial premium over wheat. The significant advantage is that this will bring more buyers into the market and increasing demand will bring new opportunities for growers.

“Demand from UK compound mills for ruminant and pig rations is likely to return, and this is coupled with demand likely to rise in southern Spain and Italy. Additionally, as feed bean prices get closer to wheat values, demand from the aquaculture sector is increasing - salmon farming in Scotland and Norway requires a substantial supply of de-hulled beans and this is set to increase as the salmon market grows between 3-6% per year in UK waters.

“The major exporters of pulses for human consumption also see a growing market. Continuing market growth in North Africa, where pulses are a staple of the diet, is fuelled by population increases of between 1.8 and 2.5% a year.

“The UK, France and Australia are the only three countries that grow beans for human consumption for the Egyptian market. A combination of spraying restrictions and quality issues in France in the last two years means that their acreage is likely to reduce, again offering opportunities for UK growers. UK spring beans always haven seen as premium product over French. 

“The starting point for growers should always be the end market and variety choice is paramount. Ideally, growers should aim for the human consumption market as there is a marked price differential between that and feed. Two new spring bean varieties have been recently introduced which give the grower increased yields as well a large seed size ideal for the export market.

“For peas, 2015 market values will be at least £300/tonne for marrowfats, against just £160 for feed peas. Large blues are also likely to be plentiful, so we would expect values to be close to £200 tonne.  If you are considering peas, it is important to make sure that the seed supply is secured as there is only a limited amount available for planting in spring 2015.

“Current feed bean contracts offer a premium of around £30-35/tonne over November wheat futures. Additionally there will be premiums, dependant on quality, where beans reach the specification for human consumption.

“To achieve the best market value, beans must have a good appearance. Moisture content and admixture are factors, but the main quality decisions are based on the look of the beans. They should be clean and bright with a slight greenish hue, not stained or wrinkled. Larger beans are preferred, as are beans of uniform size.

“Beans with visual impairments will achieve a lower price – and bruchid holes are a particular problem. Care should be taken to avoid broken and damaged beans - setting up the combine correctly will help to avoid this, as will care during the drying process as augers can scar and mark the beans.