Norfolk farmers have been encouraged to grow more marrowfat peas - to satisfy continued demand for the traditional British chip shop side dish of "mushy peas".

Lincolnshire-based firm AgriLinx is looking for around 30-35 farmers in East Anglia to grow marrowfat peas next year.

The "vast majority" of the crop will be processed into mushy peas, but it will also help meet growing demand for pulses for health foods and plant-based diets.

The firm was set up by former British Sugar agriculture director Peter Watson, who said marrowfat peas offered farmers twin benefits of a reliable financial return, and low environmental impact.

AgriLinx has partnered with seed and pulse specialists Wherry & Sons -  which currently supplies more than half of the UK’s marrowfat peas - to launch a contract for farmers across the East of England, worth an average of £500 per tonne.

And Mr Watson said Norfolk should be the perfect place to find new growers.

"Our principle focus is our own back yard in Norfolk, Suffolk and south Lincolnshire - and Norfolk is probably the prime place to be growing marrowfat peas," he said.

"The vast majority of it goes into mushy peas to go with your fish and chips - the demand for that is stable, but there are also growing speciality markets for pulses, some for export, and some for healthy and plant-based diets.

"If farmers are looking for an alternative break crop, this is a really good one.

"It is financially a really good net margin for growers and it is relatively easy to grow. It needs no specialist equipment, as it can be harvested with a regular combine harvester, and there is lots of flex on when to drill it, unlike vining peas

"The other massive advantage is that, unlike wheat and other cereals, this needs no fertiliser and it fixes nitrogen in the soil, so it is an extremely good break crop from an environmental perspective. It is also a flowering crop, so it is good for the bees and pollinators.

"We believe if you get the right support on the farm you can get a very good return, as well as all the environmental benefits - so it ticks two boxes." 

Mr Watson said experienced AgriLinx contract managers would give growers support and agronomy advice to maximize yields. 

For more information about the 2024 contract, contact

Eastern Daily Press: AgriLinx founder Pete Watson in a field of marrowfat peasAgriLinx founder Pete Watson in a field of marrowfat peas (Image: AgriLinx)