Canary seed supplies tighten

'Hidden' stocks of product seen shrinking

(Photo courtesy Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan)

MarketsFarm — Canary seed stocks are presently tight for two reasons: unreported inventories have been used up, and poor yields from this year’s crop.

David Nobbs of Purely Canada Foods in Saskatoon explained there was a “hidden inventory over the last four to five years,” never reported to Statistics Canada, that was used to meet demand.

“We were under-producing every year and this hidden stock was gradually seeping into the market, and allowed us to ship 150,000 tonnes every year,” he said, noting that’s why the federal agency’s data regarding canary seed has been unreliable.

Nobbs, a board member of the Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan, noted about 155,000 tonnes of canary seed were shipped last year.

“We’re getting closer and closer to running out of product because this hidden inventory is getting smaller and smaller,” he said.

“The tightening of stocks is something we’ve been talking about for a long time, but nobody seems to know how much remains in storage,” Kevin Hursh, the commission’s executive director, said.

On top of that, heat in July didn’t help the crop’s growth. Nobbs said his canary seed crop at the beginning of July had a potential yield of 2,000 pounds per acre, but he ended up with half that.

“The reality is we are touch-and-go as to whether we’ll have enough product this year to meet the demand,” he said.

Prices for canary seed are presently quite good, according to Hursh: “My observation is certainly that prices have continued to be brisk, in the 30-31 cents per pound range.”

Nobbs expects the f.o.b. price to bump up to 35 cents/lb. — with the question being how it gets there.

Should farmers hold back their canary seed, that would increase the price. However, if they push most of what they have into the market now, Nobbs believes the price would drop to 28 cents/lb. and later rise to 35 cents once supplies dwindled.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.



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