StatsCan lentil numbers confirm trade suspicions

CNS Canada — New Statistics Canada data has confirmed what traders already assumed: Lentil supplies aren’t lacking, despite excess moisture this year.

Prices for the pulse had been trending lower with those suspicions, and buyers are looking to India for indications on where to move in the New Year.

StatsCan estimates released Tuesday say farmers produced about 3.25 million tonnes of lentils this year, based on a survey from Oct. 21 to Nov. 13.

That’s on par with the government agency’s August estimates, and well above the 2.5 million tonnes grown last year.

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Production could be even higher, as warm weather after the survey finished allowed producers into fields for late-season harvesting.

StatsCan data shows ample lentil supplies, but traders had already been pushing the market lower, said David Newman of Victoria-area pulse trading and processing firm Commodious Trading.

“Some of the guys in the market are just saying, ‘You know what, we’re taking these prices down,'” he said.

“I think we’ve really gotten to a point of exhaustion,” he added. “They’re not really ready to take this a whole lot further until there is some new information.”

Large green lentils are priced between 28 and 65 cents/lb. across the Prairies — quality dependent — while red lentils are going for about 30 cents/lb., according to data from Prairie Ag Hotwire.

Buyers will be watching production news from India, and new-crop demand into the New Year for market indications in coming months, Newman said.

“That will move it again — what the spring conditions are like — but until then, I think a lot of us are tired.”

— Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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