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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Forthcoming Events (inc International Year of Pulses 2016)




“It will probably be another month before the picture is complete for UK pulse crops 2016,” comments Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “The Defra June survey indicated a significant increase in crop area. Beans are up 5.2% (to 173,000 ha) and peas up 18.7% (to 49,900 ha). That said, the average yields harvested so far look to be significantly down on crop 2015 and below the long term average, so the full supply and demand picture remains cloudy.”

The cold and wet spring was a major cause of lower crop yields in general, and all crops appear to have suffered - even outdoor flower producers noticed a less productive season.

All commodities appear to have a somewhat pessimistic trade prospect led by the value of feed wheat, but pulse producers should remember the added value of their pulses to the whole rotation, soil and subsequent crops.

Variability has so far been the watchword. It is not unusual to have variation between regions, but there have been unusual differences even between growers and fields at local level. Confident growers who approach crops with the intention of maximising returns, as always, received the biggest returns - but nonetheless have also seen significant dips in yield this year. Typical bean yields reported range from 4.4t/ha to 5.4t/ha, with exceptions.

Pea yields seem to have averaged between 2.5t/ha-3.2t/ha and quality is generally good. Early bean quality by contrast has been poorer than normal. Bruchid levels were initially thought to be low but it seems emergence of adults has been slow and in many cases beetles are emerging in store or are being found dead inside. It is anticipated that more northern bean crops will have less or few bruchid issues but the later harvest will increase potential staining, and crops with higher moisture levels will need to be dried.

Chris Collings, President of BEPA, comments that the Australian crop is again potentially large - but reports of wet weather at a critical stage in crop development is threatening a yield reduction if disease gets hold and remains unchecked. There is still a way to go before the nature of the competition for exports from this production area is certain.

Canadian pea availability is thought to be increasing with cancelled contracts in certain key export markets causing problems. Canadian and eastern European yellow pea productions will dictate market terms. Blue and marrowfat pea availability is thought to be improved too.

Baltic origin bean crops are both smaller and of lower quality than last year, bruchid damage is more prevalent and visual appearance is poorer. Samples seen have not been great and the weaker value of Sterling will present UK production in a better light to buyers.

French bean production from 2016 has been confirmed as low yielding and of poor quality.

Feed bean values have come under pressure as significantly large quantities have been rejected for human consumption and the value of feed wheat has risen slightly. The premium over feed wheat has been eroded, falling from £20/t to £15/t. Feed bean values ex farm range from £140-142/t depending upon location. Values further west are higher, being located nearer to the point of consumption. Beans for feed remain in demand and will find homes in an enthusiastic industry.

Human Consumption Beans continue to be affected by the availability of currency which remains the main barrier to export to Egypt and Sudan. This issue has been present for a long time now and shows no sign of easing. Old trades are still being delivered and so new market buyers are limited. Vessels have sailed, but trade post harvest compared to last year is significantly down. Local values for human consumption have been buoyed by the apparent lack of available quality and the need to cover commitments. Aside from spot coverage, trade is at or around £155-£158/t ex for good quality samples - higher than this time last year. Growers with good samples may choose to talk with their trading partners to understand whether they can hedge their bets by fixing for feed sales or holding out for feed premiums.

Turning to combining peas, the trade has been surprised by the increased level of marrowfat pea production year on year. The crop area has increased 55% in two years. The bulk of the marrowfat increase in 2016 is believed to be by growers without market contracts. There are thought to be few if any UK trade buyers at this time, even for high quality samples, so producers with no contract may have to be patient before securing sales. Contracts for 2017 production are available but at this time they are likely to be open value.

Large blue pea yields are down with good demand, hence the prices for large blues are holding up well at circa £200/t ex for good samples, discounted to circa £170/t for bleaching >10%. Export demand to EU countries has been good - helped by lower currency values and lower continental availability. Micronisers have been active consumers and there may be upside potential in this market with supply more closely matching demand.

Yellow peas remain undersupplied in the local market. The values are governed by imports and Canadian prices but currently enjoy circa £190-£200/t ex locally. At present, these appear to offer a good potential for contracts, even unpriced, as there is a guaranteed market and lower quality risk.

20 July 2016

BEPA’s House of Commons pulse promotion tops off International Year of Pulses campaign.

The many benefits of UK-grown combining peas and field beans were given a thorough airing in the House of Commons this week as the pulse industry stepped up its efforts to promote the valuable role these foodstuffs play in nutrition and sustainable food production.

The British Edible Pulses Association (BEPA), which represents processors and end-users, teamed up with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Agroecology and Labour MP, Kerry McCarthy, to host a pulse exhibition for Members of Parliament and key members of the industry on Tuesday (19th July).

It is the latest in a range of BEPA activities to promote public awareness of pulses as part of the International Year of Pulses, designated by the United Nations.

Franek Smith, Vice-President of BEPA, said: “The event has been a huge success for both BEPA and the pulse industry, benefiting everyone from farmer to retailer.

“We came to highlight the value of these often-overlooked foodstuffs to MPs and how they fit into the modern diet. We outlined their value as healthy, high-protein high-fibre foods, the fact they are very affordable and why they should be a regular part of everyone’s diet. We explained how they reduce cholesterol while providing essential proteins and amino acids.

“We also explained the sustainability of these crops, including how they benefit the environment by fixing their own nitrogen in the soil and the key role they play on many modern UK arable farms.”

Guests were able to try UK-manufactured pulse snacks as well as a range of pulse canapes prepared by The Gate Restaurant, Islington, one of the top vegetarian restaurants in the country.

“The general reaction was surprise that these products are available, how healthy they are and how affordable they are,” Mr Smith said.

That knowledge would help spread the message and raise public awareness to benefit the pulse industry, he added. “The aim was to start the education at the top of the public sector, which will cause the news to filter down.”

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “From lentils to beans – British pulses are becoming ever more popular on menus and in shopping trolleys across the country as people increasingly adopt more healthy eating options.

  “As well as playing an important role in health and nutrition, protein-rich pulses are important for food security and environmental sustainability.

  “I’m delighted to be supporting 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.”

Ms McCarthy said: “The British pulse sector has been neglected and overlooked for too long, so I am pleased to support efforts this year to promote our home-grown pulses – to help encourage healthier diets and move towards a more sustainable food and farming system.

“I am delighted to be co-hosting this event with the Agroecology APPG, as part of the UN’s International Year of Pulses, to showcase the best of British pulse growers and suppliers.”

Mr Smith added: “2016 was declared International Year of Pulses by the United Nations to promote awareness of pulses and one of BEPA’s key objectives is to liaise with UK government and other associations to encourage the consumption of home-produced pulses. The IYP initiative has certainly helped us do that.”

Other events in BEPA’s IYP programme have included the London Falafel festival, activities with Kids Country (the East of England Agricultural Society's food and farming education programme for young people) and various school days.

Further activities include a pulses special on the Radio 4 Food Programme. “All of these will help put pulses very much in the public eye,” said Mr Smith.