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

LATEST NEWS FROM BEPA

APRIL 2017

“It is heading to that time of year when the UK interest in old crop is waning fast and eyes are open for new crop opportunities,” reports Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “This generally makes market reporting something of a dull pastime, there being little new activity on old crop movements to report and simple guesses as to what might be likely come harvest.

“Winter bean crops have looked generally good since establishment and little has detracted from their appearance through April, with some very early flowering seen.

Spring sown crops of peas and beans have generally also looked well to date, with many being placed into moisture at depth to ensure good emergence. The month has been exceptionally dry, and whilst there is nothing much spoiling so far, all UK spring sown pulses could do with several millimetres of rain.”

From a trade perspective, Franek Smith, President of BEPA, reports that there has been little to no trade of any note for human consumption beans, though a small number of containers have been shipped to Sudan. Lack of availability at suitable quality is the main reason, and If available they could fetch up to £185/t ex.

Australian competition has been present for months and production appears to have over 100,000t in excess – a supply that is likely to head for feed markets elsewhere. While markets in Egypt are expected to be eager for the new crop immediately post harvest.

For Feed Beans the market is currently sitting at circa £168/t ex. Beans have had a further rally through April of circa £8/t. This is thought to have been on the back of short traders seeking coverage and reluctant farm sellers. The cry continues to be “… where have all the beans gone …”.

At these values they are reported as looking less competitive against alternative protein sources such as sunflower pellets, rapeseed meal and pine seed kernel - all of which have devalued recently, accelerated by a rally in Sterling. New crop is trading at a premium to November wheat of approximately £15-£20, putting trades at circa £150+ ex farm depending upon location.

For combining peas there are still large volumes of marrowfats unmoved from free market productions in 2016. The trade is anticipating up to 40% reduction in production area in 2017. Those sticking with them will be targeting top quality production even more intensely. Shipping costs to the Far East have caused difficulties recently with a doubling of freight costs overnight following industry structural change. It is hoped this is only temporary.

Demand for large blue peas has fallen through the month with most traders having covered their positions. There is believed to be almost no carryover and the new crop is eagerly awaited. Contracts with min to max £200/t payouts look likely to be nearer the higher end at this early stage.

New crops look good - but much can happen. Production area of blues is thought to be up, representing higher yields and lower risk than marrowfats when MF premiums are minimal.

(For the avoidance of doubt, what we locally know as ‘blue peas’ are internationally traded as ‘green peas’.)

There is nothing new to report on yellow peas. Apparently no UK production from 2016 remains. Demand exists and is being met where necessary by imports from France and Russia with values at roughly £268 ex port.

Contracts for 2017 crop are thought to be done as we rapidly approach the end of the sowing window, and it is unlikely that 2018 contracts will come before harvest despite increasing interest from growers.

(Yellow peas - internationally known as white peas – have several uses: part substitute in chickpea flour to reduce costs, flours used as broth and soup bases, gluten free flours, general ingredient thickeners and split peas for dhal.)

EAT MORE BRITISH BEANS!

Why don’t we eat more British-grown beans? In 2012 this simple question inspired the three founders of BEPA-members Hodmedods to create a business with the aim of getting more British beans into British kitchens.

Nick Saltmarsh, Managing Director, Hodmedod LtdThe question had arisen through research towards Transition Norwich’s vision for a more resilient city in the face of climate change and declining use of fossil foils. If we are to feed ourselves more sustainably, then increasing the amount of vegetable protein in our diets is a big part of the answer. And if that vegetable protein can be more locally produced, then so much the better.

Casting around for sources of vegetable protein that might be viably produced in the agricultural hinterland of Norwich we were suddenly struck by the realisation that we are already growing large volumes of field beans, also known as fava or faba beans. The puzzle is that these beans are almost entirely absent from the British diet.

At first we assumed that the beans must be simply not very tasty. But as any Egyptian will tell you, fava beans are truly delicious, whether cooked as whole beans in dishes like ful medames, the spicy slow-cooked bean stew that’s the national dish of Egypt, or used as split beans to make ta’amia or falafel. And while Egypt is the largest market for the best quality British beans, fava beans are widely appreciated across North Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle East.

Fava beans used to be an important part of the British diet too. Introduced to Britain by the first Bronze Age farmers they were among the earliest farmed crops alongside wheat, barley, oats and peas. Harvested dry and readily stored, the beans and peas provided an excellent and reliable year-round source of protein.

For centuries these pulses would have been the main source of protein in British diets, eaten daily in dishes like pottage, the British equivalent of ful medames. But as Britain later industrialised, increasing wealth and agricultural development meant that meat and dairy foods were available to more people more of the time. Only the poorest in society still had to eat beans to provide the protein they needed and so the beans fell completely out of fashion, stigmatised as the food of the poor.

As a beneficial break crop and nitrogen-fixing legume, beans remained attractive to farmers, their high protein content attractive as feed for livestock and later as a valuable export crop. The British later embraced pulses from further afield – lentils, chickpeas, American Phaseolus beans – that didn’t carry the historic sigma of our own traditional beans. Most bizarrely we adopted canned Baked Beans as our own national dish, a food made born of war-time rationing and made entirely with imported beans.

Products cartons and beansSurely the time is ripe to get over the historic stigma and start eating British-grown fava beans again? Before launching Hodmedod we carried out a small trial project, providing split fava beans and recipe ideas in return for feedback. The response was clear: barely anyone had tried them before – and there was an overwhelming appetite for more British beans.

Introducing an unfamiliar product to the British market is a challenging task. To encourage and inspire cooks to try whole and split fava beans – Hodmedod’s first products back in 2012 - we’ve developed and published over 20 recipes, from simple soups and hummus to chilli non carne and chestnut and fava casserole.

Fava beans are excellent cooked from dry, but as a canned ready-cooked bean the whole beans are quicker and easier to use. We’re also now milling them for a gluten-free flour that makes a robustly earthy pastry and acts as a flour improver when used with wheat flour to bake bread. And Hodmedod’s roasted fava beans make for a deliciously moreish snack, the British answer to Spanish habas fritas.

We’re pleased to see growing wider interest in the uses of fava beans and continue to experiment ourselves. While others are trialling fava beer and batters we’re now looking at fermenting the beans for miso, tamari and black beans. There are going to be a lot more British beans in our kitchens over the coming years.


Top Image: Nick Saltmarsh, Managing Director, Hodmedod Ltd