Buckwheat demand heating up

It’s not time for a celebratory parade but buckwheat is experiencing a minor revival in Manitoba.

After years with 3,000 to 5,000 acres and minimal producer enthusiasm, buckwheat acres may finally be on the rise.

Last year, Manitoba farmers planted about 10,000 acres of buckwheat and that figure should be slightly higher this year, said Marc Durand, who operates Durand Seeds and farms near Notre Dame des Lourdes, Man.

Durand had more phone calls and inquiries about buckwheat this spring, partly because buckwheat prices are at $13 to $14 per bushel, about $1to $2 higher than last year.

“There’s a lot more interest in it and prices seem to be a little bit stronger,” Durand said.

Durand buys buckwheat from Manitoba producers and sells it to eastern Canadian millers. The millers will pay a premium for buckwheat because demand for buckwheat flour is strong in Quebec.

Au Moulin Bleu, a small miller in Quebec, sells a two kilogram bag of buckwheat flour on its website for $8. In comparison, it sells kamut flour for $4 and whole wheat flour for $3.

Fran DeRuyck, who operates an organic farm and grain processing plant near Treherne, Man., with her husband, Dan, said demand for organic buckwheat is also rising.

The DeRuycks clean and process buckwheat at their on-farm plant and ship it to Nutritive Health Foods, a company based in British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. Nutritive Foods makes breakfast cereals and sells its products online.

The DeRuycks also sell organic buckwheat in Manitoba, a market that is also gaining strength.

“Before there was just nobody that was processing it. Now that people know we have it (demand is up),” Fran said, noting that organic buckwheat is trading around $20 per bu. “There’s a processor (now). That seemed to be the barrier before.”

As well, a group of investors are planning to build a $15 million buckwheat processing plant near Ethelbert, Man.

Don and Ben Fyk, who farm near Ethelbert, are leading efforts to build the facility, which will need 30,000 to 50,000 acres of buckwheat to operate at full capacity.

Buckwheat flour from the proposed plant, a gluten-free certified facility, would be sold into the North American market for wheat alternatives.

The Fyks weren’t available to provide more information as of press time.

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