Mustard demand, exports up

Low carryout | Development commission pegs acres at 400,000 plus

Mustard acres are set to rebound after three years of below normal plantings.

Statistics Canada is forecasting 480,000 acres of the oilseed, up 32 percent from last year.

Walter Dyck, manager of the seed division for Olds Products Co., the largest supplier of private label mustard in North America, thinks that estimate is accurate based on conversations he has had with certified seed growers.

Demand for the crop has been solid in 2013-14, and movement has been better than most other crops.

That is expected to result in a small carryout, which is supporting prices. Agriculture Canada is forecasting 30,000 tonnes of carryout.

Yellow mustard prices are 36 to 37 cents per pound, down from the low 40s a year ago. Brown mustard is 33 to 34 cents per pound, down from 38 cents.

“(Growers) have not seen the drops that many other commodities experienced after harvest last year,” said Dyck.

Mustard demand is usually stable, with exports averaging 10,000 tonnes per month for a total of 120,000 tonnes per year.

An extra 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes will be shipped to the European Union this year because Ukraine had a disappointing mustard crop.

“It is not a market that we have every year,” said Dyck.

The strong demand and good movement means mustard has been a good performer in 2013-14.

Patrick Ackerman, chair of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission, agreed, but he thinks the acres won’t be as high as Statistics Canada is forecasting.

“I think it could be closer to 400,000,” he said.

Either way, it will move the crop back into the 400,000 to 500,000 acre range after three years of sub-400,000 acre crops.

“We’re building back up to kind of where we were,” said Ackerman.

“The price of mustard has held up compared to everything else, and guys that had mustard were moving mustard and selling mustard and all their other crops are sitting in the bin.”

The United States typically buys 5,000 to 6,000 tonnes of Canadian mustard a month, half of which moves by truck and the other half by rail. This year some of that rail business likely switched to truck, which is a big reason why mustard was moving when other crops weren’t.

Ackerman expects 65 percent of this year’s acres will be seeded to yellow varieties, 35 percent to brown and five percent to oriental, which has really dropped off in recent years.

Dyck anticipates mustard demand to remain steady, although the European market may evaporate this year.

Ukraine’s large farm co-ops are facing currency and financial constraints this year.

“My understanding is that there is a good possibility that acres will increase because mustard is considered a fairly low input (crop),” he said.

Ukraine’s mustard inventories are extremely low, which is another reason growers will be planting more.

Dyck’s biggest concern for Canadian mustard is the late start to spring.

“There is no question it likes to go in early,” he said.

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