Whether it’s growing demand for protein or pressure to reduce carbon footprints in the food chain, pulses appear well-positioned to benefit from global food trends.
As the largest pea and lentil exporter in the world, Western Canada stands to become the “protein basket of the world,” says Murad Al Katib, president and CEO of Regina-based AGT Food and Ingredients (formerly Alliance Grain Traders), a major buyer of Canadian pulse crops.
In this Pulse School episode from the 2015 Farm Progress Show in Regina, he discusses both long and short-term trends in the market for pulses, including how the dry conditions in Western Canada have impacted this year’s crop.
Longer term, Al Katib says demand for protein continues to rise: “We have a global race to protein, and as incomes rise in Asia, as people get more disposable income, they buy protein.”
Pulses also have an environmental advantage, fixing their own nitrogen and using less water per unit than some other protein sources.
“That becomes an advantage when you’re marketing to General Mills, Frito Lay-Pepsi, Unilever, Nestle and Heinz. These food companies are under pressure from retailers — Tesco, Walmart, Loblaws,” he says. “Consumers are demanding environmentally sustainable products.”
What will this mean for growers? Al Katib shares what he expects for potential acreage growth, particularly for fababeans, and changes in the way companies buy pulses from producers: