Canadian pulse sales a day-to-day business

Winnipeg – The Canadian pulse crop trade hasn’t stopped, even though its biggest customer, India, isn’t taking large amounts anymore. Instead buyers are finding themselves having to take business one day at a time and become a bit more creative.

“I think everyone is in the same boat, it’s not that the market has stopped. Every day you get up, you get something done, you don’t exactly know what that’s going to be,” said David Newman of Commodious Trading near Victoria, B.C.

Before India placed import restrictions on pulse crops last year buyers were contracting sales months ahead of time, now Newman said he’s booking by the month. He is having to think more in the moment in terms of business and is just trying to keep his plant running – Commodious operates a processing facility at Weyburn, Sask.

“What we’ve done to keep our plant running is basically the margins for the processing and trading are in-house. So we’re staying busy but we’re running at cost,” he said, adding most of his counterparts are operating similarly. Some have multiple plants and are driving product to plants farther away just to keep them running.

With India mostly out of the picture, Newman said sales are going all over the place, with no one big customer. Canadian pulses are going to places like northern Africa, South America and Mexico, according to Newman.

“I never really know where it’s going to be from day-to-day. I think that’s the hardest part, people are finding little niches here and there (to sell to),” he said.

The market has changed, according to Newman and isn’t a regular commodity market anymore. What usually drives a commodity market, like weather and trade, isn’t driving sales anymore. There isn’t any way to forward plan and sales happen as they come.

The wet and snowy weather on the Prairies isn’t affecting the pulse market like other grain markets either, according to Newman. He has found that most of the pulse crops are harvested and some producers are being forced to sell their pulses earlier than they would like because they need the cash while they wait to harvest their other crops.

“If anything I think it’s had a bit of a negative impact on the pulses,” Newman said.

Although if farmers can they should be waiting, maybe not holding onto their pulse crops for a long time, but instead paying attention to the prices and selling when they see a price which will work for them.

“I don’t think everybody rushing to the exits helps anyone. But I don’t also feel that holding on makes anything a lot better. So you pick your moment, you find something that works within a cent or a half cent (and sell),” Newman said.

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