Demand for pulses in the United States exceeds supply
Ravenous demand for pulses in the United States is meeting a lackluster supply of peas, lentils and chickpeas this year.
Tony Roelofs, trader at Columbia Grain, said fractionation plants and the U.S. pet food industry were the main drivers of demand.
He said the United States is going to have to import record volumes of peas from Canada and other markets this year.
“We have certainly seen the demand for pet food continue to grow,” Roelofs told delegates attending a recent Ask the Experts webinar hosted by the Global Pulse Confederation.
“During the pandemic, the ownership of pets has continued to increase more and more and people have to feed these pets.”
Mark Boryski, a trader at AGT Foods, said 80 to 90 percent of yellow peas grown in the United States are sold in this market if government food aid purchases are factored in.
Export markets cannot cope with tenders for food aid, which sometimes run up to US $ 3 to US $ 4 a bushel. And markets like China and Bangladesh cannot compete with the pet food industry’s offerings.
But this year, domestic and international markets are facing a severe shortage of American pulses.
Jeff Rumney, vice president of marketing at the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, estimates pea production at 551,120 tonnes, about half of last year’s harvest. Lentils fared a little better at 230,881 tonnes, or about two-thirds of last year.
“Not only was it dry, but it was very, very hot,” he said.
The postponement of both harvests is expected to be minimal at the end of 2021-2022, which is why producer prices are at 20-year highs.
Chickpeas were particularly affected. He forecasts a production of 137,576 tonnes, less than half of a normal harvest.
Max Hinrichs, an exporter from Ardent Mills, said the yields were much worse than originally expected. He thought they would be 1,000 pounds per acre, but they were 720 pounds for the peas and 843 for the big ones.
“We haven’t seen such low returns in a long time,” he said.
The good news is that the quality is much better than expected. Hinrichs thought it would be like 2017, when there were a lot of small chickpeas, but it wasn’t.
Justin Flaten, trader at JM Grain, said there will be stiff competition for acres next spring from canola, flax, wheat and other crops, but pulses are expected to hold up.
“We should be able to maintain our acres based on the price of nitrogen,” he said.
Boryski believes the acres will stay the same or may decrease a bit due to production issues this year.
Rumney said farmers in the United States have been generally satisfied in recent years with the performance of the first generation of pulses sown in the fall.
“We have surprisingly high yields with these fall-seeded pulses,” said Jeff, vice president of marketing for the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council.
This allowed pea production to expand from North Dakota and Montana to new areas such as Nebraska, Colorado and Washington State.
“We are starting to increase our acreage and spread our risk,” he said.
Legumes sown in the fall allow growers to capture some of the early spring moisture, and they flower two weeks earlier than legumes sown in the spring, so they avoid hot temperatures that lower yields.
But there are also some drawbacks.
“They have quality issues,” Rumney said.
“The color is not as bright in yellow peas as it is in traditional peas planted in the spring, but I think it’s something the breeders are going to fix.”
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