During the run up to Christmas, trading of pulse crops has slowed remarkably, with few samples arriving with traders in recent days.Until now, market values have held up well and demand for UK-produced pulses remains strong.Opportunities in the export bean markets have been somewhat restrained by a combination of factors. There was early interest in suppliers from alternative origins, initially displaced UK sellers, who were focused on high domestic demand. That demand continued and has supported the domestic market prices.Australian new crop beans will be less plentiful than in recent years as a result of excessive rain, but the yield is acceptable and the quality excellent. Vessels from Australia will start to arrive in the markets for human consumption in January, and it is likely that anyone who has been holding out for a later sale will have missed the opportunity.It is still too early to hazard a guess at the likely crop area for 2024, and any early estimates are likely to have been affected by the poor autumn sowing opportunities and the subsequent water logging that looks set to ruin many of the crops that were sown. Winter bean area is likely to have been reduced as a result (although some growers may continue to sow them at a higher rate into drying ground in early 2024). There may also be opportunities for spring sowing of peas and beans into land that was not designated for them – growers tempted to do this would be wise to consider whether the land available is suited for pulse crop production.

UK Pulses

Feed beansFeed beans have been in strong domestic demand from compounders looking to cover their winter requirements. While alternative protein sources are now under supplied, there is apparently genuine and unprecedented requirement for UK beans as a desired source of protein in pig, poultry and livestock sectors. It is considered highly likely that this preference and demand will grow more in the years ahead.Values are currently at around £235/t ex farm for post-Christmas movement, although most compounders appear to now be covered for immediate needs.These values, currently a £50-60/t premium, are significantly above the more normal £30/t over wheat and are considered likely to remain until the next harvest is realised. With few samples being offered to the trade it may be a little too soon to start asking “where are the beans?” but it could be an indication of likely supply in the spring.

Human consumption bean exportsSupply into this market has been weak following 2023’s crop. There has been a dearth of quality and volume, and domestic feed demand has all but eroded any premium. With Australian crops due with the buyers imminently there is almost no opportunity for UK beans at present.

UK combining peasQuestions are being asked about pea availability. Most of the trade post-harvest to date has been with contracted crops and few samples of open market crops are now being received. Either growers are storing them with ease, willing to ride the market or the peas are simply not available.Poor samples of peas destined for animal feed, will trade at a discount to feed beans.Contracts are available for most types of peas, but growers would be wise to secure their preferences before Christmas to ensure seed is available for their first choice.

Green peasGood quality samples are few and far between but may receive offers of up to £355/t ex farm depending upon location.Contracts for spring sowing 2024 are still available. Minimum Maximum £300 – £400/t ex farm with various optional clauses.

Marrowfat peasThere appear to be no off contract offers of volume available from sellers.Contracting for 2024 crop has gone very well, but there is still some availability at £500/t ex farm with contractual clauses. Earlier higher contract values have now been withdrawn.

Yellow peasYellow pea prices have recently been boosted a little by the knowledge that the Canadian market is slightly short and enquiries forthcoming.Issues have been seen this year with high levels of waste, and skin splitting/peeling which will detract from the value.Trades have been taking place at between £290-320/t ex farm.Contracts for crop 2024 are still available but are limited.

Maple peasIt appears there are none available in the free trade market with stocks at merchants still to move.There is little remaining interest in additional contracts for crop 2024.