British Edible Pulses Association (BEPA)uses of pulses

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.

BEPA President, Chris CollingsOur 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!

Chris Collings, President

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“As of late September it seems that the majority of pulse crops are harvested with perhaps 20-30% of the spring beans still to come in,” comments Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “These are largely crops north of the Midlands, but in isolated cases further south there are crops still standing.

“It looks like the national crop will perform above average, although yield reports have been mixed. Peas and beans in the far south east of the country have yielded less than average - probably due to the heat and water stress experienced in the early July period. But on a positive note, crops from the Midlands northwards benefitted from the cooler summer months and minimal water deficit, with many growers experiencing above average yields - and in some instances extraordinary crops. “The catchy weather has pushed back bean harvests at least three weeks compared to last year and has resulted in many cut crops with high moisture content. Mature bean crops that suffered repeated wetting and drying have withstood the conditions better than might have been feared. Bruchid damage has predictably been worse in the south than the north, but generally lower than average. The result is a significant spread in quality with a clear distinction between crops that will go for feed and the best for human consumption.

“The recently published data for England, from the DEFRA June census, suggests a 37% rise in pea area with a 59% rise for beans. Whilst in percentage terms these are large increases, it must be remembered that the crop areas have been recovering from an historic low and are still behind the areas sown just five years ago and considerably behind that of 15 years ago. In 2015, the combined pulse area grown is quoted at 206,000 ha, whereas in 2009 this stood at circa 220,000 ha and in 2001 circa 270,000 ha.”

Looking at domestic markets, Chris Collings, President of BEPA, comments that the base value of feed beans has continued to follow other commodities and in particular wheat. “With wheat hovering at just under £100/tonne, the premiums for feed beans continue to hold at circa £25/tonne ex farm. These prices are considerably less than from recent harvests - but remember that pulse premiums over wheat are maintained and simply reflect the decreased value put on all commodity grains at this time.”

Those with beans of moisture content over the contracted norm of 15% will have little chance of meeting the human consumption market until they are dry and must focus on maintaining quality in the drying process. With a larger crop and significant availability, beans are now an attractive prospect for feed, and buyers have been actively committing to the market. This is good news for growers, demonstrating there is a market for this produce and, whilst prices are lower, the outlet for beans is a secure one for harvests ahead. The trade remains enthusiastic and optimistic.

For Human consumption beans, hard currency availability is limiting the opportunity for bulk vessel shipments to Egypt at the present time. If and when this will ease is uncertain. There is sufficient UK crop of good quality to meet potential demand, but with the issues of payment a concern with Egypt, it is possible that the UK will ship less produce this year. Added to this is increased production from Central Europe and the Baltic States offered at a lower price. Values are holding up where export opportunities arise and a premium of circa £25/t over feed beans might be anticipated (circa £160 delivered). Trade in markets taking containerised product as opposed to bulk vessels remains brisk.

Marrowfat pea values remain good at circa £300/tonne, and taken as a whole, harvest has been the best since 2011 with many crops delivering over 6t/ha, with an average being 3.4t/ha. A small carryover of produce is likely before the arrival of crop 2016, but this is a desirable situation ensuring continuity of supply to buyers of UK produced peas. Colour and quality has been good with earlier harvested crops being the best. Pea moth has been significantly less of a problem, but remains an issue, and growers must remember to pay attention to this easily controlled pest in order to maintain values. Large blue peas appear to be in oversupply. Produce has been of good quality, but in recent years markets have moved away through lack of availability and it may be a while before they return realising a new supply situation. Potential export opportunities may open up with continuing issues surrounding Canadian suppliers. Values for feed are discounted to beans by circa £5/tonne and best quality samples for human consumption command a premium of £30-£40 which is approximately the historical norm, giving a value ex farm of circa £150/tonne.


“Harvest began in great conditions even though recent weeks have brought catchy weather,” comments Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “Samples of peas and beans so far seen by the trade have generally been good - and there is a welcome increase in both quality and quantity of marrowfat peas.

“While poor conditions at harvest can adversely affect quality - peas in particular can be quick to bleach and discolour - the majority of the UK pea crops are now in store, those remaining inevitably being further north.

“Winter beans are approximately 50% harvested - but the spring crop has barely begun - perhaps just 5% has been cut. Despite the recent rains, conditions have not yet affected the quality of the majority of bean crops - winter bean samples with a bright tan finish and a hint of green colour have been the norm with less than average bruchid beetle damage.”

Mr Vickers points out it is still too early for definitive comment on the outcome of harvest as a whole with crops yet to be cut and so many samples to be evaluated. Crops have looked good all through the growing season and early indications are optimistic for yields above average, though in the case of marrowfat peas a few percentage points may have been lost with premature senescence during the peak of the heat in July, and peas in the south east may have yielded a little lower than anticipated.

Chris Collings, President of BEPA, points out that as with all crops, when prices fall, yield and quality remain the key to maintaining margins: “With harvest not complete, and the trading year only just starting, there is a long way to go and much can change. Growers yet to combine should prioritise achieving good quality to the last cut of harvest.

“Looking at feed beans, the base value has followed wheat futures down, however, significant premium remains. Currently, ex farm values hover around £130/tonne. At this level there has been considerable interest from the feed compounders for use in cattle and pig diets, displacing rape and soya meal. Buyers have shown a real appetite for the product and would appear to have laid a sustainable base for the market. This is excellent news for the market for both the current crop, and that of 2016.”

For human consumption beans, uncertainty around availability and quality from other markets remains. However, the UK crop is still in demand and the issue slowing brisk trade is the availability of currency for payment. Combined with UK produce quality being good so far, the supply and demand situation is likely to put downward pressure on premiums in the short term, currently running at circa £20-£25/tonne.

Marrowfat peas remain in demand with prices ranging from £300 - £330/tonne ex depending upon quality and it is thought that this value will be maintained.

Large blue pea prices suffered towards the end of the trading of crop 2014 and they remain under pressure. Low quality peas - typically bypassed vining peas - put a base price in the feed market discounted below feed beans at circa £120/tonne ex. With some excellent blue pea yields, with many over 5t/ha and some reported at circa 7t/ha, there is significant downward pressure. Prices range between £140-£160/tonne ex depending upon quality - but for really poor crops the feed pea price beckons.

“As for all pulse crops, we continue to stress that margins are dictated by yield and quality,” adds Mr Collings.