The prices for pulses have continued to strengthen into the new year. There is always uncertainty surrounding farmer intentions for spring planting, but with the land still saturated and unworkable in such large areas of the country, it is clear that there is the intention for a significant increase in spring cropping.
The AHDB Early Bird Survey (EBS) was re-run in February revealing the intention for a 27% increase in spring sown pulse crops. Of course, this has still to be sown, and the establishment conditions are going to be far from ideal, so the 2020 pulse crops are unlikely to be record-breaking in terms of tonnes per hectare produced.
UK prices have risen to the point at which it has become viable for peas to be imported as feed alternatives, and this is now likely to put a cap on significant further rises in domestic production prices in the animal feed market.
The buyers of beans in Egypt are now able to access good quality produce from the Australian harvest, and with Egyptian stores now filling, interest in UK production is calming. Purchasing for this market goes in waves, depending upon local stock situations. It is believed this market can still take around 200,000 tonnes more from the 2019 crop.
The Australian crop size is still uncertain in the trade with estimates ranging from 300,000 - 400,000 tonnes, the reality of which can have a significant impact on the market either way. Australian values jumped to well over 600 USD/t which is a significant deterrent to buyers, but has since fallen back a little.
Exports are always influenced by currency movements and the situation has been volatile in recent weeks creating uncertainty - but at the same time opportunity for exporters. Weakness in Sterling is supporting ex farm values and export interest.
Feed Beans ...
Feed bean values have continued to firm and are now at around £240/t ex farm, a £40-£50 rise since the Christmas period. The market is largely focussed on exports, with the UK market focussed on ‘essential’ purchases in chicken feed and aquaculture. Alternative protein supplies are being used domestically, including imported peas.
Human Consumption beans ...
The human consumption market has had premiums significantly eroded by the interest of Egyptian buyers in the cheaper feed quality produce. This interest really started following the poor 2018 crop and with a market now used to handling this produce, the interest looks likely to remain. Good quality samples with less than 5% Bruchid are very few and far between and premiums over feed eroded to around £20/t.
Combining peas …
The market for peas continues to be driven lately by the micronizers, who have been buying more heavily recently, hence free market peas are becoming harder to source. However, as with beans, the continued reluctance of growers to sell, may be playing a significant part.
Contracts for all pea types for crop 2020 remain available but are becoming tighter, and seed availability now looks like it will limit variety choice. Likely values are shown below, though different buyers offer different terms and conditions presenting opportunity for variation.
There appears to be no trade for free market marrowfat peas off contract. Other than that they can always be sold for feed. Feed quality peas are currently valued at up to £230/t ex farm. 2020 crop contract values are min / max £300-320/t ex farm.
Only the very best quality in terms of colour and cooking ability will receive the top values. The range is now up to £300/t ex farm. 2020 crop contract values are min / max £225 - 275/t ex farm.
The limited UK domestic split pea market is niche and stable with values being paid around £230-240t ex farm. Total demand remains low at present. 2020 crop contract values are min / max £200-250/t ex farm.
These are likely to be worth around £320/t ex farm. The market prefers the variety Rose, but there appear to be none available.
The next Pulse Market Update will be March/April 2020