More processing is key to the long-term success of the pulse sector in Western Canada, the head of the country’s largest pulse-trading company told attendees at Crop Week in Saskatoon.
The pulse sector should be focused on producing food rather than a commodity, said Murad Al-Katib, president and CEO of of Alliance Grain Traders and sister company, SaskCan Pulse.
There is growing demand for protein and healthy foods around the world, said Al-Katib, and the pulse industry should look to the example set by U.S. corn processors, which produce everything from flour and starch to corn oil and high-fructose corn syrup.
There is the same potential in pulses, with markets for protein, starch, and fibre components of peas, lentils, and other pulse crops grown in Western Canada, he said.
More domestic processing would boost the overall price for producers and reduce price volatility that is experienced in countries overly dependent on exporting unprocessed pulses, Al-Katib said.
Domestic consumers are showing more interest in pulse-based foods, but Al-Katib said more research is needed in order to better establish the health benefits of pulses. He added food companies are also reluctant to reformat their products without reliable supply, which is something more processing capacity in Western Canada would bring.