Wide-ranging green lentil quality good for Sask. markets

CNS Canada — Variable weather throughout Saskatchewan’s growing season brought a range of quality and prices to green lentil producers — and that’s a good thing, according to a processor in the province’s south.

The final quality of green lentils in Saskatchewan ranges from No. 1 to No. 3, said Colin Young of Midwest Investments, a pulse processing business at Moose Jaw.

“We had weather incidents from drought to excess moisture at harvest,” he said. “That affected quality.”

A range is good, he added, as having lower-quality lentils supports the price of higher-quality ones.

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When quality is uniform, it’s hard to build demand in the market, Young said.

“I think in a situation like this, with a range of quality, the producer wins.”

Delivered elevator green lentils range from 37 to 50 cents per pound, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

“You get about a 10-cent-a-pound spread, because parts of the market want premium and will pay a premium.”

Processors started the year with no carryover, Young said, which means the entire year’s marketing is based on the volume produced.

Saskatchewan farmers are expected to produce 2.048 million tonnes of all types of lentils, a 145,400-tonne increase from last year, but a 103,400-tonne decrease from two years ago, according to Statistics Canada.

“It wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t record,” he said.

The other factor contributing to the lentil price spike is demand from the processing sector.

Local companies need to fill their capacities for both volume and commitment, Young said, but added he thinks the vast majority of lentils will be in transit by Dec. 31.

“We’re all competing to buy stocks to stay busy.”

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @jade_markus on Twitter.

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