Action designed to maintain a strong and healthy UK pulses sector has been proposed by the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO).

The plan for the future of UK pulse cultivation comes as pulses and pulse-based flour are growing in importance to the UK baking industry. Pulses are helping manufacturers tap demand for healthier and lower-gluten products, and also offer many other opportunities for new product development.

PGRO released the ‘Blueprint for UK Pulses in a Post-Brexit Strategy’ to meet future challenges for the UK agricultural sector.

The report proposes 10 strategic actions the PGRO is set to undertake to maintain a strong and healthy pulse sector:

  • Encourage cropping for environmental good. Specifically targeting pulses and vegetable legumes to aid the sustainability of UK food production systems in agriculture.
  • Take an approach to crop protection and nutrition to assist the production of pulse crops, ensuring more economic productivity and reliability.
  • Incentivise the feeding of UK-produced plant proteins to drive local demand and fuel production.
  • Stimulate investment of private equity in industrial processing and ingredients manufacture to kick-start demand and to drive increased, more efficient production and add value.
  • Increase the education of growers and the supply chain about the environmental and economic benefits of pulse production.
  • Set out a clear strategy of education in schools via the national curriculum to stress the health benefits of pulses, food origins and to encourage healthy eating choices.
  • Require public procurement and service providers to take a lead in the provision of healthy pulse-based diets and education initiatives.
  • Require government departments to collate and distribute timely, accurate public supply statistics.
  • Set up a market and research development platform with trade and research organisations to identify research priorities for funding initiatives with a unified approach.
  • Use public funds for public good research, directed at agronomic risk reduction, developing UK traits for genetic improvements, pulse crop diversification and added-value processing

PGRO chief executive Roger Vickers said the changes and challenges of Brexit presented an opportunity for growers, researchers and traders to release the full potential of pulses.

“There are key benefits to be gained as the evidence for pulses and the environment shows clearly that their inclusion in farming rotations significantly improves biodiversity, crop productivity and soil fertility – while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution,” said Vickers.

British Baker subscribers can view our report on healthy breads outlining how pulse flours are helping to keep the bread market in shape.