ED&F Man flagged the potential for pulses as the trading house, better known for coffee and sugar, entered the sector through the takeover of Maviga, which has grown from an attic room into a $300m concern.
Philip Howell, the ED&G Man chief executive, termed as a "strategic acquisition in a dynamic sector" the purchase of Maviga, a trading house in specialist crops from black-eyed beans to sesame seeds.
"The global market for edible pulses is growing rapidly," Mr Howell said.
"It is estimated that the world's population will be 9bn by 2050 – this will place an even greater reliance on leguminous protein."
ED&F Man, which will enter the pulses sector through the acquisition, added that Maviga was "an important part of the group's strategic growth plans for its commodities division".
The acquisition follows a volatile period for pulse prices in 2016, which was declared by the UN as International Year of Pulses, and 2015 with values sent soaring by successive disappointing harvests in the key Indian market.
The deal also comes 22 years after Maviga was started in an attic by Marcus Coles, who founded it in an attic on ConAgra's UK pulses trading operation, which he bought for £1.
Mr Coles - a former ConAgra employee, who named the company after the first two letters in the names of himself, his wife Viviane and daughter Gabrielle – has expanded Maviga into a business with sales of more than $300m last year, and pre-tax profits up 62% at $8m.
The group sources, processes and ships, in bags or containers, some 250,000 tonnes of pulses and specialty crops a year.
The acquisition is "about the perpetuity of our business, something that ED&F Man, with its 230-year heritage, understands", Mr Coles said.
ED&F Man, which split from hedge funds Man Group in 2000, "will be able to provide Maviga with investment capital for both continued organic growth and acquisitions", he said.
By Mike Verdin