Three important markets for beans are all growing and the crop is a good bet for farmers despite the recent sharp fall in prices, says one leading pulse trader.
Despite a big rise in the area grown and a bumper harvest this year, the bean crop should not be a problem to sell, said Franek Smith, trader at pulse specialist Dunns and vice-president of the British Edible Pulse Association.
The bean markets for human consumption, animal compound feed and fish food are all growing, while the fall in price has been mirrored by the decline in prices for other crops such as wheat, he added.
Beans are trading at £120-£125/t ex-farm for animal feed and £140-£145/t for human consumption, but the crop gives growers opportunities to control blackgrass, while it can fix its own nitrogen and offers a good entry for winter wheat, Mr Smith said.
“Beans are a sustainable crop and have a sustainable place in UK agriculture,” he told a pulse briefing to launch the Processors and Growers Research Organisation’s (PGRO) Recommended Lists for pulses.
An AHDB Early Bird survey estimates the pulse crop area is set to rise 15% to 242,000ha for harvest 2016, largely due to the fall in oilseed rape. Last season’s national crop was divided between 80% beans and 20% peas.
After a poor-yielding French bean harvest, the UK is in a good position to supply Egypt and Sudan with beans used for making falafel.
The animal feed compound market is taking more beans as they are a cheaper source of protein than wheat, while the fish food market is also using more beans, Mr Smith added.