Chickpea competition continues to shrink


Exportable supplies of kabuli chickpeas continue to contract in key production regions and that should be good for prices.

“We’re friendly,” said Jeff VanPevenage, president of Columbia Grain.

“We think it’s going to be a strong market this year.”

Mexico is in the midst of harvesting another disappointing crop.

Eleazar Cota, a trader with Alazan, is forecasting 122,000 tonnes of production, which is at the low end of the typical range of 100,000 to 300,000 tonnes.

It will be the second poor crop in a row following last year’s 101,000 tonnes.

Carryout from the 2020-21 crop is expected to be 19,405 tonnes, one-quarter the size of the previous year’s carryout, so there is not much help on that front.

“That means we will have to export less because we don’t have enough stocks,” Cota said in a recent interview with the Global Pulse Confederation.

He is forecasting 117,000 tonnes of exports in 2021-22, well below the previous five-year average of 145,000 tonnes. Carryout will be non-existent.

India is also expected to export less due to a disappointing harvest in that country.

Total world supply will be the lowest since 2017.

“I am expecting firm prices,” said Cota.

Mexico’s top-four customers are Turkey, Algeria, Spain and the United States. Customers may have prepare for a smaller calibre crop than usual.

About 80 percent of Sinaloa’s crop is typically large-size kabulis. This year, it will be closer to 65 percent, said Cota.

VanPevenage said kabuli prices have surged but it happened too late to have much impact on U.S. plantings.

The USDA is forecasting 290,000 acres, up from last year’s 270,000 acres. He thinks it will end up closer to 303,500 acres.

The U.S. has finally worked its way through the overabundance of Canadian-style, seven, eight and nine millimetre chickpeas that it produced in North Dakota and Montana in 2017.

Pakistan bought a lot of those chickpeas in the last nine to 12 months. Demand from the U.S. pet food sector has also substantially increased.

There is an even bigger shortage of the highly sought-after large-calibre chickpeas produced in Washington state and Idaho, which compete with Mexican and Indian kabulis in international markets.

VanPevenage is forecasting 185,966 tonnes of total U.S. chickpea production and 312,600 tonnes of supply in 2021-22, down about 60,000 tonnes from this year.

U.S. exports are pegged at 125,000 tonnes, a 14 percent drop from the current year. Carryout will be a paltry 12,600 tonnes at the end of 2021-22.

“Things are tightening up,” he said.

Statistics Canada is scheduled to publish its Principal Field Crop Areas report on April 27. VanPevenage expects an increase in acres because farmers have had more time to react to higher prices.

Agriculture Canada is forecasting 315,000 tonnes of chickpea carryout from 2020-21. Canada is one of the only countries in the world with any leftover supplies of kabulis.

“But let’s be honest, they’re not the best quality,” said VanPevenage.

“Otherwise it would have found a home by this point in time.”

He believes the market will be keeping a close eye on drought conditions in Montana, western North Dakota and Saskatchewan because that could have a big impact on where prices go in 2021-22.