Pea and bean prices have continued to strengthen over recent weeks on the back of strong demand and generally tight underlying stocks.

Most growers have sold their best samples, with only the odd batch left in store, and as a result the gap between old and new crop beans had increased significantly, according to Processors and Growers Research Organisation chief executive Salvador Potter.

Old crop bean prices were up to £190/t, in part due to some large forward contracts seeking late supply. New crop demand from Italy and Spain was also strong as they sought cover for next season. New crop contracts were available at £130-140/t.

“A normally quiet trading period is still seeing activity around beans, despite the fact that UK stocks are very low,” Mr Potter said.

“Some might say the market is overvalued. However, world protein prices remain strong, as do cereals. Eastern European yields are expected to be low in the face of drought, and plantings of soybeans in the US are also below expectations.”

There had been no crop news from Canada or Australia since April and the 2009 French crop had not expanded as significantly as that in the UK, he added.

The PGRO reported generally good interest in new crop contracts for peas, although growers were very nervous in some areas after the sporadic 2008 harvest. Prices for marrowfat peas were expected to remain “very high” due to almost no carryover of stocks, while strong demand from food/flour customers was expected to help yellow pea markets. The expected Canadian yellow pea crop, plus stock entering the 2009 season, was at an all time high of 4m tonnes.