Renewed focus on diversifying pulse markets a "silver lining" of India's tough tariffs

There’s no understating just how significant the loss of Canadian pulse exports to India has been this past year.

Carl Potts, executive director of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, says that the organization’s budget — directly funded through a value-based levy — fell short by nearly 40%. It shows just how dire the situation has been for much of Canada’s pea and lentil crop, but if there is a silver lining in all of this, he says, it’s that there’s renewed impetus and interest in diversifying both the export country list and the pulse products Canada offers to the world.

While China has stepped up by buying some serious pea tonnage in 2018, a resolution to the Indian tariff and fumigation issues would be welcome by Canadian pulse growers. Potts says that there’s still significant domestic supply in India, which is keeping prices low and we won’t see much demand for pules there until they chew through domestic supplies.

Canada ships pulses to nearly 100 countries, but just three countries make up the majority of the tonnage. That dynamic may change in the coming years as SaskPulse “re-doubles” efforts to diversify its focus to new uses and new ingredient demand out of not just China, but also the U.S.

SaskPulse has a goal of 25% more domestic new uses by 2025 of Canadian pulses and that growth is going to come from new use markets, such as food ingredient and foodservice, much of it out of the U.S.

The result, Potts says, should be that five years from now, Canada’s pulse market should boast a much more diversified portfolio.

Hear more from Carl Potts, including how Saskatchewan Pulse Growers is approaching the latest seed royalty policy change, access to crop protection products and more, below:

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