British Edible Pulses Association (BEPA)

BEPA is the trade association representing the processors and users of British-produced pulse (mainly combining peas and field beans) crops. BEPA’s key objectives are to liaise with UK government and other national and international associations, & encourage the consumption of home-produced pulses by promoting their value as healthy, high-protein and high-fibre foods, and to liaise with crop scientists and plant breeders.

Franek Smith, President of BEPAOur website brings you the history of BEPA, contact information for all our members, BEPA in the press and media, the latest pulse market prices, and an introduction to the many end uses for UK-produced pulses.

We also give details of the main BEPA contacts - if you would like to know more about BEPA, and the important role pulses play in the UK's agricultural and food sectors, please ask us!

Franek Smith, President of BEPA.

British Edible Pulses Association (BEPA)
Future BEPA & PGRO Events and selected UK/EU eventsFuture BEPA & PGRO Events
and selected UK/EU events

LATEST NEWS FROM BEPA

MARCH 2017

WINTER BEANS LOOK GREAT COMING INTO THE SPRING … SPRING CROP DRILLING IS NOW PROCEEDING APACE WITH MOST GOING INTO EXCELLENT SEEDBED CONDITIONS

DRILLING

“Winter beans look great coming into the spring with few reported issues and spring crop drilling is now proceeding apace with most going into excellent seedbed conditions,” reports Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “ The season is setting up for a good start, though there is clearly a very long way to go. As we experienced in 2016, conditions experienced in mid June/early July can have a massive impact upon crop outturn, even after an excellent start.”

Turning to an international perspective, Franek Smith, President of BEPA, reports the size of the 2016 Australian Faba bean crop was a record and thought unlikely to be repeated in 2017, which will have potentially positive benefits to exporters. Australian issues with deliveries to Egypt have dampened their enthusiasm and prices have drifted upwards by as much as $30/t, with better market opportunities elsewhere.

Both Canada and the USA are forecasting significant increases in pea production which may put pressure on international prices in the feed pea sector. So much will depend upon the domestic pea production levels realised in India and Bangladesh.

There is no trade of any note for Human Consumption Beans. Tiny potential demand into Sudan in June could fetch a £10 premium over feed, but it is doubtful there is any left to be sourced. This would value it at circa £170/t ex. The currency issues with Egypt remain unchanged in any significant way. New crop bean business is being traded with same base price as feed beans. Any human consumption premium is unknown at this stage – though it is believed that the export market will be very hungry for supply of good quality as soon as the first crops are harvested in early September.

For Feed Beans, the market values for the 2016 crop have been quite consistent and very flat throughout. A dull trade at currently circa £160+/t ex.

The remarkable good news in 2017 for beans has been the delivery into UK feed industry. DEFRA figures and UK trade estimates suggest at least a doubling of consumption, perhaps in excess of 370,000t.

Beans provide a good source of protein and starch, which not only feed well, but also bind other products into quality pelleted feed. Feed producers do like beans. The losers will have been rapeseed meal, soya, wheat and other mid-range protein sources, but in the bigger scheme of things, these quantities will not be noticeably missed across these sectors. Demand is slowing as stock are turned out. New crop is trading at a premium to November wheat of approximately £26/t For combining peas, the situation for Marrowfat peas remains unchanged from recent reports. Traders are still clearing up contracts from 2016 so free market sellers will have to wait or sell at a discount if buyers can be found. There is limited free market opportunity to sell other than into micronising where values will be comparable to large blue peas. Limited contracts for 2017 production are available. Quality parameters may for be very specific contracts with wide movement windows. Values are circa £235-240/t ex.

With little now available and demand for Large blue peas, prices have risen to £225/t ex farm for the best samples (<5% bleached). Poorer samples trade at a discount of circa £30/t (circa £195/t ex) and feed quality only can expect little other than a £5/t discount to feed beans (circa £155/t ex). All blue peas are underpinned by Canadian import values. Contracts and pools for crop 2017 are available with likely min/max offers circa £170-£200/t ex with options for movement before May.

Yellow peas are very scarce - as previously reported. Values are nominally in line with the best blue peas. Good prices for the last two seasons mean yellows are attracting a lot of attention from growers.

Traditionally lower priced, they have benefitted from strong demand and inability to meet that demand from traditional competing sources.

Whilst the world market is massive and presents opportunity, it remains to be seen whether an increase in supply will materialise worldwide to over satisfy demand. Contracts are available for crop 2017 with nominal values estimated at circa £170/t plus.

EAT MORE BRITISH BEANS!

Why don’t we eat more British-grown beans? In 2012 this simple question inspired the three founders of BEPA-members Hodmedods to create a business with the aim of getting more British beans into British kitchens.

Nick Saltmarsh, Managing Director, Hodmedod LtdThe question had arisen through research towards Transition Norwich’s vision for a more resilient city in the face of climate change and declining use of fossil foils. If we are to feed ourselves more sustainably, then increasing the amount of vegetable protein in our diets is a big part of the answer. And if that vegetable protein can be more locally produced, then so much the better.

Casting around for sources of vegetable protein that might be viably produced in the agricultural hinterland of Norwich we were suddenly struck by the realisation that we are already growing large volumes of field beans, also known as fava or faba beans. The puzzle is that these beans are almost entirely absent from the British diet.

At first we assumed that the beans must be simply not very tasty. But as any Egyptian will tell you, fava beans are truly delicious, whether cooked as whole beans in dishes like ful medames, the spicy slow-cooked bean stew that’s the national dish of Egypt, or used as split beans to make ta’amia or falafel. And while Egypt is the largest market for the best quality British beans, fava beans are widely appreciated across North Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle East.

Fava beans used to be an important part of the British diet too. Introduced to Britain by the first Bronze Age farmers they were among the earliest farmed crops alongside wheat, barley, oats and peas. Harvested dry and readily stored, the beans and peas provided an excellent and reliable year-round source of protein.

For centuries these pulses would have been the main source of protein in British diets, eaten daily in dishes like pottage, the British equivalent of ful medames. But as Britain later industrialised, increasing wealth and agricultural development meant that meat and dairy foods were available to more people more of the time. Only the poorest in society still had to eat beans to provide the protein they needed and so the beans fell completely out of fashion, stigmatised as the food of the poor.

As a beneficial break crop and nitrogen-fixing legume, beans remained attractive to farmers, their high protein content attractive as feed for livestock and later as a valuable export crop. The British later embraced pulses from further afield – lentils, chickpeas, American Phaseolus beans – that didn’t carry the historic sigma of our own traditional beans. Most bizarrely we adopted canned Baked Beans as our own national dish, a food made born of war-time rationing and made entirely with imported beans.

Products cartons and beansSurely the time is ripe to get over the historic stigma and start eating British-grown fava beans again? Before launching Hodmedod we carried out a small trial project, providing split fava beans and recipe ideas in return for feedback. The response was clear: barely anyone had tried them before – and there was an overwhelming appetite for more British beans.

Introducing an unfamiliar product to the British market is a challenging task. To encourage and inspire cooks to try whole and split fava beans – Hodmedod’s first products back in 2012 - we’ve developed and published over 20 recipes, from simple soups and hummus to chilli non carne and chestnut and fava casserole.

Fava beans are excellent cooked from dry, but as a canned ready-cooked bean the whole beans are quicker and easier to use. We’re also now milling them for a gluten-free flour that makes a robustly earthy pastry and acts as a flour improver when used with wheat flour to bake bread. And Hodmedod’s roasted fava beans make for a deliciously moreish snack, the British answer to Spanish habas fritas.

We’re pleased to see growing wider interest in the uses of fava beans and continue to experiment ourselves. While others are trialling fava beer and batters we’re now looking at fermenting the beans for miso, tamari and black beans. There are going to be a lot more British beans in our kitchens over the coming years.


Top Image: Nick Saltmarsh, Managing Director, Hodmedod Ltd