“For any market to work effectively and be more transparent, there needs to be clarity with regard to production, supply and demand,” says Roger Vickers, chief executive of PGRO (Processors and Growers Research Organisation). “Yet the level of these key factors in the UK pulse market is not well defined or reported.
“We believe the availability of improved statistics would have a dramatic impact in improving planning as well as reducing production and marketing risks to enhance confidence in pulses and their uptake.
“At present, the only official data produced is the national crop area of peas and beans for animal consumption in the annual DEFRA June Survey published in retrospect. But this is a sample survey carried out at a high level and is not widely recognised as accurate within the industry – yet is the only firm data that can be used to estimate the crops of peas and beans.
“This lack of certainty in the crop areas grown is compounded by the lack of official figures for crop yields – and no requirement to report them – hence there is insufficient clarity about actual supply in any single year.
“Clearly, this is an unsatisfactory situation for all involved with UK pulses and reduces commercial confidence and investment in UK pulse production.
“Publication of crop areas before harvest would be of significant value to inform the market. The Basic Payment Scheme requires declaration of the crops grown field-by-field, so precise knowledge of the area grown each year is available.
“Furthermore, reporting of post-harvest yields, coupled with accurate estimates of crop areas sown, would give a clear picture of the performance of pulses.
“Comprehensive and accurate knowledge is a key driver of efficiency, productivity and – most important – confidence for any market. PGRO believes that UK pulse growers, traders, researchers and, indeed, all involved the UK pulse sector deserve better statistics,” adds Mr Vickers.