Seed houses Senova and Wherry & Sons have formed a joint venture company, UK Pulses, to gain the critical mass needed for the further development of the protein crops, currently a minor crop in the UK.
UK Pulses will combine the expertise and knowledge of the two long-established private businesses, with Senova managing the marketing and commercial side of the business, allowing Wherry & Sons to concentrate on its international pulse trading operations.
The agreement will see Cambridge-based Senova take over the management and day-to-day activities of UK Pulses from seed crop placement, dressing, packaging and distribution under its own brand. First seed under the new arrangement will appear in 2017. It widens Senova’s current portfolio of two white pea varieties – Kareni and Mascara – and the Boxer spring bean, through the addition of Wherry’s 12 bean varieties including Wizard and the high yield newcomer Bumble, in addition to marrowfat, yellow and blue pea types.
Wherry has used IBERS in Aberystwyth in recent years to develop new pulse varieties. Senova has a long established oat breeding alliance with IBERS, which was renewed for 15 years in early 2014. The partners say their access to new breeding technologies through IBERS will hasten the release of new varieties.
“Marrying our skills with Senova’s marketing and commercial experience will put us in a better position for the future and allow both companies to benefit from the expanding pulse market, by using our strengths and interests to best effect,” says Dan Wherry, chairman of Wherry & Sons.
“By adding our germplasm and variety experience to Senova’s specialist seed activities, UK Pulses will be able to access and make good use of new breeding technologies. A breeding alliance with IBERS in Aberystwyth is already up and running, with good effect, and the first results of this will be evident when new varieties are released in the next few years.”
“This joint venture will see Wherry continue to develop its international pulse trading activities, which now extend to the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and China, while keeping the roots of a seven generation family business in pulse development.”
For Senova, commercial director Jeremy Taylor adds that the joint venture will bring more market opportunities for pulses. “Peas and beans have an important place in farm rotations, not only for the end product, but also for the agronomic and environmental benefits that they provide,” he comments.
“This alliance increasing our involvement in the pulse seed sector comes at just the right time, as we will be able to offer a good portfolio of winter and spring pulse varieties with various end market uses, while there are some promising new varieties on the horizon and an expanding market to supply.”
“Looking further ahead, there are going be plenty of exciting opportunities for protein crops. UK Pulses will be well-placed to take advantage of those.”
Doug Harley of Senova parent the Alexander Harley Seeds Group says that the joint venture will strengthen the company’s position in the pulse seed sector. “Pulses have an exciting time ahead of them and this arrangement will allow us to be a bigger part of that. It is good news for everyone involved with peas and beans.”