Pulse weekly outlook: Export demand supports lentils

India set to extend current tariff reductions

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MarketsFarm — Lentil prices in Western Canada saw a counter-seasonal rally at the end of harvest and are likely to sustain that rally into winter.

“Prices are going to keep going higher,” Darcy Barie, a commodity buyer with Verdient Foods at Vanscoy, Sask., said.

Ahead of the 2020 harvest, red lentils were around 24 cents/lb.

“They’ve sort of skyrocketed,” Barie said, quoting red lentil prices around 29-30 cents/lb. Green lentils are between 38 and 40 cents/lb.

Foreign demand has been the main driver behind prices, as countries attempt to keep their pantries stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People don’t want to run out of food, so the demand is there,” he said.

For the first two months of the 2020-21 marketing year, Canadian lentil exports total just over 436,000 tonnes, according to Statistics Canada data. That’s 12.6 per cent higher than the same period last year, when lentil exports totalled approximately 387,000 tonnes.

India has recently softened long-held tariffs on Canadian pulses, which has also been supportive of lentil prices. About 30 per cent of all Canadian lentil exports have been to India.

“Indian demand is higher compared to a few years ago,” commented Barie.

At the end of October, India announced its intention to extend its current tariff reductions until the end of 2020, paving the way for more Canadian exports.

With strong export demand levels expected to sustain, some producers have chosen to hold on to their products until prices rise further.

— Marlo Glass reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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