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 with Lewis Cottey, Vice PresidentOur 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 with Lewis Cottey, Vice-President.

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




Franek Smith, President of BEPA comments: “The United Nations designated 2016 the International Year of Pulses to promote pulse consumption worldwide - and BEPA has made a huge and continuing effort to encourage this great source of vegetable protein which is healthy, affordable, sustainable and nutritious. This work will have been in vain if future supply is limited. We already have a tight marketplace – for example, this year we have seen the supply of Faba Beans, Large Blues, Yellow Peas and Maple Peas all but sell out.”

“This EU decision is both surprising and disappointing in equal measure as it will have a negative impact on the area of pulses grown in the UK,” adds Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “Pulses are an integral part of the UK farmer’s rotation, and as well as their many, many benefits in their own right, they also impact positively on resultant crops in terms of weed pressure and soil health.”

In a statement issued by PGRO and BEPA jointly on behalf of growers, the trade and the UK pulse industry, they listed a number of areas that will be compromised by the EU decision:

  • All pulses support a huge range of biological diversity, and beans in particular are hugely attractive to pollinating insects and hence attract a very wide range of bird life.
  • Pulses are flowering plants at a time of year when other pollen and nectar sources are less available. This benefit to bees and foraging insects may be reduced, bringing a negative environmental impact from the change in EFA regulations.
  • It is almost certain that anyone growing pulses solely to fulfil the EFA will think long and hard about continuing if they are unable to use any pesticides. This will be to the detriment of both ecological diversity and EU protein production.
  • The majority of growers know that there are huge benefits provided by having pulses in the rotation, and few are producing them purely for the 5% crop area EFA qualification. And even those who are growing for this reason will by now have realised the benefits of having a pulse crop on their farms.
  • Pulses are crops that do not require intensive use of pesticides and require lower input levels. But to be successful they do need inputs to deliver economic yield potential - and this needs the judicious use of a very limited portfolio of approved fungicides as and when required.
  • Their unique lack of requirement for manufactured nitrogen fertiliser means they have a significantly lighter energy requirement – a factor that is also tremendously beneficial to the environment.
  • It is widely recognised that pulses boost the performance of the following crop as well as adding to the general improvement of soil structure and soil health.
  • A good crop of peas or beans has many benefits for following crops and improved rotational margins. To reap the benefits of pulses, growers use limited justifiable inputs to maximise the output and quality of their pulse crops in order to market them to best advantage.
  • Three crop requirements and close rotational issues in other crops will not disappear. Issues with pest and weed control that have driven the move to spring cropping have not changed.
  • The EU’s Horizon 2020 programme is sponsoring research to the tune of tens of millions of Euros to inform policy as to how pulse and protein production can be increased to counter the EU protein deficit. Hence, it seems both perverse and counter-productive to impose measures that will make that goal even harder for producers.

A final comment from Franek Smith and Roger Vickers: “All these environmental and other benefits are surely why the pulses were included in the EFA rules in the first instance, so this decision seems perverse to say the least. It would be enormously disappointing if growers of pulses were to reduce their cropping area because of a negative message on EFA rules from the EU when the fundamental reasons and benefits for pulse production remain the same.”


Nigel and Vicky Sutton of NS Shipping LtdNigel and Vicky Sutton of NS Shipping Ltd describe an important part of the pulse supply chain - shipping UK-grown beans to our overseas markets.

One of the key features of a family run business like NS Shipping is our reliance on excellent working relationships and an effective carefully selected supply chain. Building of such relationships particularly with exporters of pulses has been the result of more than 30 years of teamwork.

The popularity of pulses for export has been ever-increasing as they have been part of the staple diet in many overseas countries for centuries. For example, in the Middle East and North Africa, faba beans are used as the basic ingredient of many dishes and indeed act as the main ingredient for the national dish of Egypt.

We are certainly beginning to see more encouragement to use home grown pulses in the UK which will see a rise in popularity particularly since we are all striving for improved health. At the same time, the popularity of UK-grown pulses overseas continues to be evident within my business. During 2015-2017, UK exports handled by NS Shipping were as follows:




 UK to Egypt & East Mediterranean  1211  1656
 UK to Port Sudan & Middle East  323  875
 UK to Asia  209  305

Excellent supply chains are a key ingredient of successful exporting. The relationships we share with the exporters are equal to that we share with the shipping lines and indeed all within our supply chain. As with any industry, price is a driving force - but there is so much more to ensuring a seamless process.

Current difficult market conditions within the industry are proving a challenge for all. The recent collapse of one of the major shipping lines has had an influence on changes within the industry. Services have been suspended or reduced resulting in unprecedented increase in rates.

This is where we believe our relationships with all parties within our supply chain are crucial. Having flexibility to adapt to UK conditions such as we have seen in recent months; large increases in rates, equipment shortages and space problems means we can find the very best option and provide solutions.

There are a lot of factors in addition to those discussed to consider prior to the container being successfully loaded on board a vessel. Time sensitive deliveries, adherence to new SOLAS regulations (VGM), customs clearance and accurate documentation. Only with an excellent knowledge of market conditions and potential impacts on the global shipping industry can we meet all of these requirements.

UK PULSES ON THE HIGH SEAS - shipping UK-grown beans to our overseas markets

As noted, pulse exports are often time sensitive. Deadlines for arrival of containers have to be considered. Vessels and routes have to be carefully selected. Timing is especially vital during peak seasons when loading schedules are full and containers are loaded every 45 minutes from dawn to dusk. Additional factors can also impact on loading schedules such as breakdowns, rejected containers and bad weather. Delays during loading can result in containers missing deadlines for delivery of container to quay resulting in short-shipment.

Following the introduction of SOLAS regulations, each container weight has to be accurately entered directly onto the port website in order to successfully access the quay. Any inaccuracies can also result in short-shipment. There are some factors that are unavoidable - however, in an effort to reduce delays, we have implemented systems such as direct contact with drivers, VGM checking system and container tracking as being aware of problems provides an opportunity to find solutions.

Currently we are maintaining close contact with all of our suppliers in order to gauge the changes to the market closely and enable us to provide the most efficient and cost effective solutions for the new season. With new shipping line alliances and introduction of new routes due to begin midsummer we are hopeful that the market will begin to settle.

We are navigating our way through very interesting and challenging times within the global shipping industry. We are pleased to continue our relationships and work closely with many pulse exporters and seek to develop our relationships further in the years to come. Together we can continue to be prepared to react to market changes and continue to successfully export our home-grown UK pulses.