PULSE MARKET UPDATE DECEMBER 2021
The autumn has, for most, been very open and it appears that the opportunity to maximise winter sowing opportunities has been taken, perhaps spurred on by memories of recent autumn experiences and current high values for wheat. This is reflected in the planting intentions reported in the AHDB Early Bird Survey which forecasts a drop in Pulse cropping of 5.1% for 2022. Oilseeds are forecast to fall too, but the biggest surprise is perhaps the area of fallow predicted to rise significantly.
Values for pulses have risen post-harvest, as have almost all commodities. It has been an interesting period since the last bulletin with unforeseen situations favouring UK pulse interest – especially beans.
A dramatic decrease in availability from the Baltic States has become apparent. What was known to be a troubled cropping year started with reduced crop area and ended with a significantly lower yield of a poor quality. This has widened the door to human consumption export markets for UK traders. That door has been propped open for a longer period by delays in the Australian crop availability due to delayed harvest, international shipping problems, the availability of containers, prioritisation of other higher value export commodities and some developing local demand. Costs of shipping for Southern European production are also significantly increased with distance from the North African buyers. Australian bean harvest will again be large, but it is unlikely to reach the market for another couple of months, so UK suppliers have longer to fulfil the market demand.
Issues around the lack of availability of nitrogen fertiliser, and speculation about costs and energy values, continue to fuel interest in the pulse crop 2022, with suggestions that beans in particular will attract the attention of growers – though this sentiment sits at odds with the Early Bird survey results noted above.
Trade in feed beans is good, but there is the impression of stalling domestic demand and flattened export interest in Europe. As a result, following an initial rise in the wake of wheat, feed bean prices have stabilised at around £250 – £260/t ex farm. Significantly, location will impact farmgate values. Despite the suggestion of a stall, prices are apparently stable and, while wheat took a hit of up to £17/t in recent days, values for beans have so far remained unaffected. Use in aquaculture continues to grow as the industry expands and the UK is in a good position to support this market.
There is a feeling in some quarters that feed beans might be slightly undervalued and there is apparently some farm reluctance to sell, perhaps underpinned by suggestions of European feed pea values of up to Euro 400/t delivered. However, beans are always competing with alternative protein sources for feed in compounder recipes, which apply the brakes.
There is no forward selling for crop 2022 but a premium of £30 over wheat futures might be anticipated, which would currently suggest around £233/t ex farm.
Human Consumption Beans
Immediately post-harvest the market for human consumption beans was depressed. The hangover stocks from Australian production in 2020 weighed heavily and minimised the available premium over feed values. With the stocks dwindling or exhausted and with the new southern hemisphere crop delayed, the premium over feed values rapidly widened to almost £60/t ex farm. At the time of writing, up to £310/t ex farm may be realised depending upon the distance from ports (haulage costs are having a significant impact) and before any quality deductions.
The current values represent an increase of around £50-£60/t in the last 3 months, underpinned by a stable feed price that rose as the wheat market increased.
It is likely that this market will remain open to UK traders for a few weeks into the new year, until Australian crops arrive.
There is no consistent trend across the four general pea categories.
It has been previously reported that growers with open market production could find opportunistically good returns from 2021 harvest. This is now coming to fruition. Whilst contract prices were much improved, open market parcels have recently sold for £400-£450/t ex farm depending upon quality. These opportunities have been few and far between but exist because the contracted crop in 2021 fell short.
Where product is available there is some reluctance of growers to sell. In the trade this has resulted in some logistical issues; log jams in moving, cleaning, and preparing for despatch and delivery to the end user.
Production contracts are generally ahead of last year but there remains plenty of attractive opportunities for production from 2022 and beyond. Contract values from £350/t to £400/t exist with varying levels of penalty clauses for bleaching, waste, stain and cooking suitability.
Green / Blue peas
A market that has been, in recent months, relatively unexciting. Previously reported as being more plentiful, green peas have moved little in value. Prices appear pretty stable and feed pea quality is offered at around £230/t ex farm with other markets in a range of £240/t – £285/t, depending upon intended end use and quality. New contracts are available with values up to £290/t ex farm.
There has been a further rise in international market prices, faced with a general shortfall as demand and uses for peas continue to rise internationally. The market has settled recently following a degree of wild variation. £270/t is a realistic expectation but, for really bright samples and specific user demand, £285/t could be realised.
Contracts for 2022 production are available with values around £270/t ex farm, but location will of course have an impact on values.
There is little new demand for Maple peas. It is a small market almost exclusively fulfilled by contract productions. Variety Rose is the preferred selection for export, with Mantara mainly focussed on the domestic feed market, especially pigeons. At nominally £300/t ex farm, there appear to be no current buyers and, certainly for Rose, no offers for sale.