Durum market holds steady despite spring wheat swings

MarketsFarm — Durum bids in Western Canada are holding relatively steady, with prices only seeing small moves over the past month despite larger swings in spring wheat.

Durum prices in southern Saskatchewan have traded in the $235-$243 per tonne area over the past month, a relatively narrow $8 trading range compared to Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat, which moved in a $30 range over the same time period.

The solid feed market in southern Alberta is setting a floor for the durum market, while the upside is limited by a lack of excitement on the export side, according to Jerry Klassen, manager of Canadian operations with Swiss-based GAP S.A. Grains and Products in Winnipeg.

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The export market is still relatively slow for new-crop business, but old-crop movement has picked up recently, according to Klassen.

Much of the prime durum growing area of southern Saskatchewan is on the dry side, and will need more rain in the upcoming weeks, said Klassen.

Canadian farmers intend to plant 5.02 million acres of durum this year, which would be well below the 6.19 million seeded the previous year and the smallest acreage base since 2014, according to Statistics Canada data.

Canada has exported 3.64 million tonnes of durum during the 2018-19 crop year-to-date, which compares with 3.36 million at the same point a year ago and the five-year average for this time of year of 3.55 million.

Country-specific data is only current up to the end of March, with Turkey and Tunisia both seeing sizeable increases in demand on the year. Algerian demand is down on the year, but Klassen said business there was starting to pick up.

While country-of-origin labelling legislation in Italy has hampered some movement to the major pasta-producing country, exports as of the end of March of 250,000 tonnes were only about 33,000 tonnes behind the year-ago pace.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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