Press Release from PGRO & BEPA (01.04.16)

"With spring bean drilling in full swing for what is likely to be the main period for 2016, the market is looking forward to a similar area to that harvested in 2015, ” comments Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “That said, the area is not accurately understood and the winter bean crop area is believed to be a little less than for crop 2015. The last two years have seen generally good crop performances for pulses in the UK - will the coming months be similarly conducive to yields?”

Looking at Domestic Markets, Chris Collings, President of BEPA, comments that the bean market seems to be well supplied in all areas at present and this has seen prices fall slightly in the last 3-4 weeks following a significant rise since the New Year. These roller coaster effects in the market are not untypical in the early months of each year with market destinations opening and closing as buyers take stock of demand and purchase positions. Interest in UK pulses for all established markets remains good for both old crop and the coming new crop harvest.

* Old crop requirements for Feed Beans for the January-April period have largely been covered. Prices have hardly changed for some time and remain in the range approximately £120-130 ex depending upon the location. Demand will typically fall as cattle turn out to grass from the end of April. It is difficult to know how much produce has gone into the feed market, but it is safely judged to have at least doubled year on year. The product is liked by the buyers in terms of processing and feed quality and they are now looking to cover requirements over the summer. This is all good news and providing strong assurances for utilisation of crop 2016.

New crop prices are presently similar to old, but with wheat still lingering at around £105/t, feed beans are offered a premium of approximately £25/t. Trade of both old and new crop is taking place.

* The market for Human Consumption Beans appears to be temporarily oversupplied from all destinations with a 17,000t cargo from Australia en route to the Egyptian market. Values have slipped slightly as a result, falling from their recent highs of £160/t ex to current levels of £145/t ex.

The produce from Lithuania has been well received, being bruchid-free and was generally of lower price for early movement. In Egypt, buyers will be looking to source from Lithuania ex 2016 with enthusiasm. Of course, this origin is new as suppliers to the market and has yet to build a reputation for consistency and reliability - a position that UK trade has enjoyed for many years and the reason why UK beans remain in the leading position. Egyptian currency was recently devalued by over 12% and currency availability is still an issue, though falls in GBP values have continued to assist exporters. Australian crop 2015 was reported at circa 320,000t, up 12% on 2014. The area, however, increased by 75% reflecting weather related cropping issues. The Sudanese market will reopen in June for containerised shipments from May, which may provide late opportunities for remaining old crop of the right quality.

Quality remains the watchword for human consumption beans. Samples with a good enough visual appearance are now quite hard to source, with colour darkening in storage, an issue that growers need to constantly bear in mind. The outlook for 2016 crop remains good - demand for exports in excess of 240,000 tonnes can be anticipated if the UK can deliver the right quality. Early intelligence suggests French crop area is likely to be down further and Lithuanian/NE European areas to remain much the same.

* For Combining Peas, any free market Marrowfat pea crops remaining could fetch £275-£300/t ex farm, though it is believed there are few available.

The cold start to spring and delays to early sowings whilst soil conditions improve are raising questions about any potential yield impact in the trade. At this stage, the concern is only slight. New crop contract values remain at £280-£300/t ex farm.

With the increased export interest for Large Blue peas, their value has continued to rise from the very low levels seen over the past few months. Even the paler samples have risen - though not in proportion to the better quality, strongly-coloured samples desired by the export markets. Only a small surplus is now anticipated. Old crop values range from £145-£170/t ex. New crop is also trading with values £160-£200/t ex depending upon quality and location.

There is currently no trade in the UK for Yellow peas. It is viewed that the unexpectedly higher than normal values seen in 2015 are less likely for new crop, with large and normally strong production areas viewed with ability to supply.