WA shipment adds bulk to options for faba beans

Liz Wells, October 13, 2023

Esperance Quality Grains director Neil Wandel and export logistics coordinator Emma Grayson on site this week at Esperance with a faba bean sample. Photo: EQG

TWO hatches of bulk faba beans are on their way to Egypt in what is believed to be the first bulk shipment of the pulse from Western Australia in at least 10 years.

Put together by Esperance Quality Grains, the 9500 tonnes rounded out a cargo that included three hatches of faba beans loaded earlier in Port Adelaide.

The two hatches were loaded through CBH Grain’s Esperance terminal.

“We delivered 9000t to CBH in three days, and they loaded it in half a day,” EQG director Neil Wandel said.

Terms of trade were also attractive.

“Before we loaded the vessel, we were paid for the beans.”

EQG sourced its faba beans from around 20 growers, including Neil’s son Mark Wandel, who supplied 2500t.

The brokered business was done through trader and Grainsource principal Simon Hutt in New South Wales.

Neil Wandel said he hoped a new-crop shipment to Egypt, Australia’s biggest faba bean market by far, can follow in coming months.

EQG is now waiting for new-crop faba beans to come in so it can pack containers for its regular aquaculture customer in Vietnam ahead of looking to its next volume opportunity.

“Hopefully we can offer bulk to load in Jan-Feb,” Mr Wandel said.


Progression from packing

EQG has for some years been packing pulses at its Esperance site for export, and Mr Wandel said faba beans were a good fit for some soil types in the Esperance port zone.

“Esperance has a lot of soils similar to SA’s, and once you get off the sandplain, they do well.”

“People like to grow them; they grow on higher pH and heavier country.

“The issue with faba beans in Esperance has been we’ve had to put them in containers or truck them to Perth, which is $70 a tonne.”

Provided they are priced competitively, faba beans are in demand from WA’s stockfeed sector.

ABARES data indicates WA biggest ever crop of faba beans was 27,100 tonnes produced in 1997-98 from 37,800ha, and the next biggest was 26,100t grown in 2018-19 grown over 14,800ha.

WA’s crops of recent years have been more modest, with 12,500t from 8000ha forecast from the harvest due to start in the next week or two.

This is down from 19,000t from 10,000ha from the 2022-23 harvest.

Mr Wandel believes the Esperance region also has the potential to produce 50,000t annually, and the bulk option may be the price kicker some growers have been seeking.

In order to ensure a clean product was bulk shipped, EQH cleaned 7000t of the bulk shipment, which he said has “cleaned the district out of faba beans” sourced from as far away as Kojonup.

EQG’s faba bean gradings go into sheep and cattle rations, as do its gradings from other pulses.

Mr Wandel said EQG business was focused on pulses, particularly higher-value ones like lentils.

“Last year we containerised 25,000t of pulses.”

A monthly service primarily booked by the minerals sector has typically been taking 100-140 containers packed by EQG to its markets in Asia and the Middle East.

“We clean all our product because we’re trying to develop a name for good quality.”

“We’re doing more and more each year.”

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