A generally weaker chickpea market is expected in 2023-24, as high prices work to cure high prices.
Colin Young, manager of Mid-West Grain Ltd. in Moose Jaw, said he is expecting producers in Western Canada to plant more chickpeas this year, with the potential for acres to rise as well in other traditional production countries, including India, Turkey, Russia and Argentina.
“Our competing countries are likely to increase chickpea plantings and probably will sell cheaper than today’s values,” Young said. “I personally feel that next year, chickpea prices will not be as high as this year.”
Unlike many other agricultural commodities in Western Canada, some chickpea prices have risen over the past year. Kabuli and B-90 chickpeas, for example, are priced anywhere from about 45 to 60 cents/lb, up 10 to 13 cents on the year.
In its first new-crop supply-demand outlook released last week, Agriculture Canada projected 2023 chickpea seeded area at 259,500 acres, up 10.5% from this past year. In its accompanying commentary, Ag Canada attributed the forecasted increase in Canadian chickpea area to expectations for good returns relative to competing crops. However, it also cautioned the average new-crop price is likely to be lower than 2022-23, “due to expectations for an increase in world supply.”
Ag Canada is projecting an average chickpea price of about 46 cents/lb in 2023-24, down from 47 cents a year earlier but still up from the 2021-22 average of 44 cents.
Young said the current strong prices for chickpeas are the result of attractive prices for competing crops that squeezed planted area lower in 2022. That in turn came on the heels of the 2021 Prairie drought which slashed production. As a result, he said global chickpea stocks are the lowest in five years.
“Where I sit, I think chickpea (planted area) will be up, but up modestly in Canada,” Young said, noting Canadian chickpea acres typically amount to around 225,000. “We’ll probably see that much, likely more.”
For now, Young said international markets are quiet as participants await India’s upcoming harvest.
“(Their harvest) tends to happen in March. The export community is very much watching and seeing what India is going to do with its production,” Young said. “Prices are high and buyers aren’t super eager to load up on inventory. They’re hoping that India comes to the market with aggressive pricing. But all of that has yet to be determined.”