Chinese trade dispute with U.S. could open window for CDN peas

WINNIPEG (CNS) – As trade tariffs between China and the U.S. mount, so too does the potential for other countries to swoop in and plug the gap in whatever market may need filling.

While soybeans are one of the few agricultural items that have been included in the tit-for-tat trade battle by the Chinese, it seems apparent that other plants and crops could soon be included.

Carl Potts, executive director of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, says Canada’s pulse exporters will be ready for that increased business it if comes.

“As prices for soybean meal and other feed ingredients rise then that could increase the price at which companies are willing to pay for peas,” he explained.

China is currently the second biggest importer of Canadian peas, with an enhanced focus on the yellow varieties.

Potts says 15 years ago the amount the Chinese took in was rather small, 15,000 tonnes or so each year. But in the last few years that figure has grown to over a million.

“We think there’s significant opportunity for continued growth,” he said.

Potts says China fractionates peas into fibre as well as starch for noodles. As well, they have recently improved the process for drawing protein out.

“The global demand for plant protein is helping drive it,” he said.

With India already having placed penalties on Canadian peas, he says China may be looking to buy more anyway.

“China will be opportunistic I think and the prices might be more attractive to them,” he said.

According to the latest data from the Prairie Ag Hotwire; prices for Canadian yellow peas in Western Canada have fallen C$1.75 per bushel over the past year. They are now locked in a range of C$5.80 to C$7.00 per bushel.

Potts says China won’t buy enough to supplant India as the number one importer but the potential for larger sales is still there.

He notes the increased attention comes at an opportune time as new production facilities across the prairies will increase capacity significantly.

“We think that works out to about 600,000 tonnes of new incremental demand and processing capacity here on the Prairies. That’s not insignificant by any stretch.”

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