China becoming leading buyer for Canadian peas

With some luck in the transportation sector, there is potential to ship a million tonnes of peas to China this crop year.


We normally think of India when we consider overseas pulse markets, but China is becoming a big player and it might capture the crown of top importer, says Marlene Boersch of Mercantile Consulting Venture.


Canada exported 367,600 tonnes of peas to China and 240,700 tonnes to India in the first three months of the crop year.


Boersch thinks Canada will export 2.6 million tonnes of peas, about the same as in 2012-13.


It would lead to a 500,000 tonne pea carryout, up from 174,000 tonnes last year. 


However, Boersch told farmers at Agri-Trend’s 2013 Farm Forum Event in Saskatoon last week that that is not a severe burden.


Ocean vessel logistics is one reason for the good movement to China.


Canada already has a good export trade with China, shipping canola, wheat, flax and malting barley. Ships arriving to take one commodity can top up loads with peas.


“There are good vessel combination opportunities to go there,” Boersch said.


“Also, we have a freight advantage over some of the other shippers.”


A lot of China’s pea demand is for vermicelli noodles, but Boersch thinks it might have also bought feed peas.


This summer she thought China could take 850,000 tonnes of Canadian peas, but she now thinks that number could be a record one million tonnes if the Canadian rail system can accommodate it.


She said yellow peas for January-February have traded at Vancouver at $330 a tonne. That backs off to a prairie price of about $7.65 per bushel, but local bids are only $6.50 to $6.75, showing that there are good margins for grain handlers and also that the transportation squeeze is limiting returns to farmers.


Turning to lentils, Boersch noted Australia had production problems.


Exporters there had forward sold product, but the quality is not what was expected now that farmers are harvesting the crop. 


Panic buying in Australia last week raised the spot price there by $50 to $60 per tonne.


It could present opportunities for Canadian red lentil exports.

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