Why has the pulse industry not publicly raised concerns about trade disruptions during this time of diplomatic tension?
The Canadian pulse industry believes that trade of agricultural goods must be prioritized despite geopolitical volatility. The seamless movement of agriculture and agri-food products is central to ensuring food security worldwide and it is the expectation of Canadian pulse growers, processors and exporters that governments will separate geopolitical tension from agri-food trade during adverse situations to maintain food supply resilience. It is our belief that decoupling the pulse trade from this diplomatic tension is in the best interest of the pulse industry and consumers in Canada and India.
All indications from both the government of India and the government of Canada suggest that these are shared values and that the trade of staple food products will continue.
Is it true that there hasn’t been any impact on pulse trade?
To date, there’s been no disruption to the movement of lentils from Canada to India. Trade data confirms the pace and volume of exports in August, September and October exceed that of last year and overall are ahead of the five-year average.
Furthermore, senior Indian government officials confirmed as recently as October 26th that “we do not discriminate between countries on lentil imports, and we only look at the quality of the produce being shipped into the country".
In the last month, there’s been a drop in lentils prices. Is this decline connected to the tension between Canada and India?
Opinions on this issue vary and perhaps the answer is ‘yes and no’. For new purchases, buyers in India have options and are counting on a big harvest in Australia. Some analysts believe Australian exporters saw an opportunity in the tension between Canada and India to sell more lentils and put forward aggressive offers – making sales for the first week of October. Others see the softer red lentil market as a global situation not caused by a single diplomatic event
It’s also important to note that post-Covid container price and availability challenges encouraged Australian exporters to ship more lentils in bulk to India, which allows them to be much more competitive.
Has the diplomatic tension between Canada and India encouraged India to source more lentils from Australia and other suppliers?
Indian imports of red lentils from Australia have increased, but it is not just a recent phenomenon. There has been a tremendous increase in Australian lentil production & exports since 2019, which has increased competition into the Indian market significantly.
Source: Mercantile Consulting Ventures
What is the longer-term outlook for lentil exports to India?
In India, per capita consumption of lentils is stable and population and income levels continue to increase. Currently, production of alternatives to lentils (e.g. pigeon pea) is lower than expected, and overall, prices are rising. Analysts believe there will be approximately 1.35 million MT of demand for 2023 and 1.1 to 1.3 million MT demand for 2024 from all origins.
What is Pulse Canada doing to ensure the relationship between Canada’s pulse industry and partners in India remains strong?
With government-to-government relations strained and with the prospect of an Early Progress Trade Agreement off the table for the time being, Pulse Canada has turned its attention to strengthening connections at the industry level. We are sending strong signals through our business-to-business relationships with agencies, organizations and customers to assure them that the Canadian pulse industry is 100% committed to its pulse partnership with India. Canadian and Indian industry stakeholders share a common vision of increasing production and demand for pulses and there’s a lot of room and willingness to collaborate to achieve these goals.