CNS Canada — Canada’s pulse crop trade hasn’t stopped, even though its biggest customer, India, isn’t taking large amounts anymore. Instead, buyers are finding themselves having to take business one day at a time and become a bit more creative.
“I think everyone is in the same boat; it’s not that the market has stopped. Every day you get up, you get something done, you don’t exactly know what that’s going to be,” said David Newman of Commodious Trading near Victoria.
Before India placed import restrictions on pulse crops last year, buyers were contracting sales months ahead of time; now, Newman said, he’s booking by the month. He is having to think more in the moment in terms of business and is just trying to keep his plant running.
Commodious, which exports lentils, peas and chickpeas as well as canary seed and flax, operates a processing facility at Weyburn, Sask.
“What we’ve done to keep our plant running is basically the margins for the processing and trading are in-house. So we’re staying busy but we’re running at cost,” he said, adding most of his counterparts are operating similarly. Some have multiple plants and are driving product to plants further away just to keep them running.
With India mostly out of the picture, Newman said sales are going all over the place, with no one big customer. Canadian pulses are going to destinations such as northern Africa, South America and Mexico, according to Newman.
“I never really know where it’s going to be from day-to-day. I think that’s the hardest part, people are finding little niches here and there (to sell to),” he said.
The market has changed, according to Newman, and it isn’t a regular commodity market anymore. The factors that usually drive a commodity market, such as weather and trade, aren’t driving sales anymore. There isn’t any way to forward-plan and sales happen as they come.
Wet and snowy weather on the Prairies isn’t affecting the pulse market like other grain markets, according to Newman. He has found most of the pulse crops are harvested and some producers are being forced to sell those pulses earlier than they would like, because they need the cash while they wait to harvest their other crops.
“If anything I think it’s had a bit of a negative impact on the pulses,” Newman said.
If farmers can do so, he said, they should be waiting — maybe not holding onto their pulse crops for a long time, but instead paying attention to prices and selling when they see a price which will work for them.
“I don’t think everybody rushing to the exits helps anyone. But I don’t also feel that holding on makes anything a lot better. So you pick your moment, you find something that works within a cent or a half cent (and sell),” Newman said.
— Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.