Winter beans coming into flower© Tim Scrivener

UK pulse production has the potential to double in five years if the right conditions are created, according to a report.

Quality peas and beans offer some of the highest potential gross margins from the 2015, says the report by Graham Redman, of The Andersons Centre for the John Innes Centre.

As well as building export markets, a rise in UK production would help increase pulse consumption in animal feed compounding, fish food and drive new product innovation in added-value food manufacturing for sports nutrition and health food markets.

The report calls for help for growers to develop the crop to improve cultivation and storage practices to get the maximum value from peas and beans.

See also: Get better pulse crop returns despite more crop hitting market

It also suggests that in assessing the economic performance of pulses, the value of the nitrogen benefit that they pass to the following crop should accrue to the pulse crop.

Barriers to pulses development and expansion include:

  • Declining trend in UK pulse area since 2001
  • Fragmented UK supply chain
  • Urgent need for marketplace clarity – including pea and bean production statistics, market prices, supply and demand information
  • Concerted effort to inform consumers of the benefits of eating pulses, coupled with continued marketing to reposition peas and beans
  • Continued strong support for pulses research  
  • UK consumers are largely unaware of the health benefits of including pulses in diets.

The UK is one of the top three world bean exporters and a leading exporter of marrowfat peas.

In particular, the UK’s quality, traceability, and associated good service levels have achieved rapid growth recently in important new markets such as Japan.

Exports to Japan from the UK have increased by 250% in five years.