Positive outlook for pulses says BEPA President

Speaking at the PGRO Demonstration Day at Stockbridge Technology Centre on Tuesday 1st July, Andy Bury, President of BEPA (British Edible Pulses Association), reflected on the old crop market, what made bean prices move, and looked forward to the coming harvest and onwards to next season.

Looking first at old crop, Andy Bury noted that in 2013 the UK had a much bigger spring bean crop than the previous year, and after a near perfect growing season, the quality was excellent with good colour and minimal bruchid damage: “The French, in contrast, had a smaller crop of very poor quality due to an untimely drought and minimal opportunities to spray for Bruchid.

“The UK market quickly appreciated our excellent quality and were happy to sell large quantities to Egypt both in bulk vessels and containers. As a consequence, market values for feed remained unchanged, but the premium for human consumption crumbled from over £30/t to less than £10/t.”
Turning to the market outlook for beans in particular for harvest 2014, he pointed out that with a bigger area of winter beans in the ground and a reduced acreage of springs, we can expect to see 10-15% less than last year while the French have an unchanged crop size.

“To date the weather has been perfect for the UK crop for both yield and quality. Demand from Egypt is looking strong as their own crop was poor, and many of the old crop Australian beans have been put into cold storage for Ramadan which has just started.

The main market driver for this coming season will continue to be Egypt. Values there will depend on the quality and availability of French beans, the relative strength of sterling against the dollar, and the quality of the UK crop.

“UK domestic demand will again be limited as it is only the Aquaculture and bean and rapeseed extrusion plants that will continue to use beans.”

Andy Bury predicts that there is no doubt that the area of pulses grown will increase over the next two years. The increase will come about in part due to reduced returns from oilseed rape – with its markets under pressure from abundant world supplies – while the cost of growing the crop continues to rise.

“Also with the increasing blackgrass problem, many growers will be looking for a more spring crops.

“And pulses are also ideal as a third crop under the new CAP reforms in place for harvest 2015.

“So with a bigger pulse crop bean values will get pressured, but with 2015 values already trading at a £40/t premium over wheat, if you are planning to grow beans then now may be the time to make some sales,” he adds.

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