(Resource News International) — Time is quickly running out for
Canadian shippers to fill demand for pulse crops during Ramadan,
but the long-term interest in lentils, chickpeas and peas is
expected to remain strong nonetheless, according to projections
by an independent consultant.
“There has been strong demand for Canada’s lentils,
chickpeas and to some extent peas for Ramadan, but the problem
has been that those supplies, particularly lentils are very
limited,” said Rob Tisdale, with Orion Agriculture Consultants in
Producers in Western Canada who do have old-crop lentil
supplies on hand have also been reluctant to part with those
stocks given that the price outlook for the 2008-09 crop year is even better than in 2007-08, he said.
“It has been very difficult to cover export demand,” Tisdale
said. “It took about five weeks just to cover four containers’ worth of
lentils for a recent sale.”
Tisdale said producers were also holding onto their lentils
until they had a better indication of what the weather will be
like for the recently planted pulse crops.
The supply base of lentils in Western Canada is extremely
tight right now, which has only served to complicate the ability
to meet export demand, he said.
“What is not sold now, will be sold later at a higher
price the producers know this and the farmers who are holding
onto lentils can afford to wait out the higher bids,” Tisdale
Ramadan is certainly one of the larger opportunities for
Canada’s pulse shippers.
However, Tisdale cautioned, as Ramadan shifts into
summer, the demand for pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and
peas, which are cold-weather foods, might be tempered somewhat in
“With Ramadan moving into the summer period, the weather is
much hotter, which could result in volumes going down,” he said.
“Traditionally volumes during the summer Ramadan months are low.
If you are cooking, it creates heat. And heat creates more heat,
particularly in view of the climate in some of the importing
The Islamic month of Ramadan generally results in increased
demand for pulses, with customers from North Africa, the Middle
East and Asia all looking to have more lentils and other pulses
on hand ahead of time.
The timing of Ramadan is based off of the cycles of the
moon, it comes roughly 10 days earlier each year. Ramadan in 2008
is expected to start near the beginning of September.
It typically takes about a month or more to move a commodity
from Western Canada into an export position and then by ship to
its final destination.
While the window of opportunity to supply Ramadan needs this
year is quickly closing, Tisdale felt global demand for
Canada’s lentils will remain strong considering the tight world
“There is much more demand than there is supply and this is
expected to continue right through 2008-09,” Tisdale said. “We
haven’t seen this kind of demand for pulses since the 1970s when
the Russians cleaned out the global grain supply.”
Tisdale said strong demand has resulted in prices for
Eston lentils hitting the 32-cent per pound level while values
for Laird lentils were in the 40-cent range. Both were said to be
at or near historic highs.