Domestic canaryseed supply questionable

Saskatchewan canaryseed growers usually don’t put too much stock in production and supply estimates published by Agriculture Canada.

That’s because official government estimates are usually out of whack and offer a misleading view of domestic canaryseed supplies, says trader and grower David Nobbs.

“If you look at (Agriculture) Canada’s numbers, we don’t have enough supply to meet the market,” Nobbs said.

“But most analysts have stopped using those numbers completely.”

He said domestic supplies of canaryseed are probably 220,000 to 230,000 tonnes, which includes 180,000 tonnes of production in 2016 and 50,000 tonnes of carryover.

By comparison, Statistics Canada’s numbers suggest total supplies of 135,000 tonnes, including 130,000 tonnes of production in 2016 and 5,000 tonnes of carryover.

“There’s a pretty wide spread there,” Nobbs said.

“The two sets of numbers have become so far apart now that nobody really looks at the (Agriculture Canada) numbers anymore.”

Canada’s exports of canaryseed for the past five years have consistently been 150,000 to 160,000 tonnes.

If Agriculture Canada’s most recent estimates are to be believed, Canadian supplies heading into the 2017 calendar year will fall 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes short of supplying the market.

In reality, excess domestic supplies are expected to keep a tight cap on prices, said Nobbs.

Most industry analysts expect canaryseed to command 20 to 25 cents per pound in the short term, although some say prices could easily fall below the 20 cent threshold.

Kevin Hursh, a Saskatchewan grower and executive director of the Saskatchewan Canaryseed Development Commission, said approval to use canaryseed for human consumption is expected to increase domestic use.

However, any positive impact stemming from food approval could be a few years away.

“A year ago at this time, we were very pleased to announce that we had novel food approval in Canada … which opened the way for dehulled glabrous canaryseed to go into the human food market,” Hursh said.

“Since then it’s been slow … (because) we lack commercial dehulling capability.”

Hursh said a handful of companies are looking at systems that would allow dehulling of commercial quantities of glabrous canaryseed.

InfraReady Products of Sask-atoon has dehulled commercial quantities of canaryseed, and other companies are also interested in ex-ploring the dehulled market.

The industry is hoping that dehulled seed will help meet the growing demand for products that contain gluten-free cereals, he added.

“There’s commercial dehulling capability coming on stream … but development will not happen quickly,” Hursh said.

“Any producers that are making their seeding plans, don’t count on food use being real large any time soon. We hope … (it will) gradually become more and more important.”

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