Opinions differ on quinoa prices in 2019

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CNS Canada — There are opposing views on what will happen with Canadian quinoa prices in 2019. One buyer believes the specialty crop will increase a few cents per pound; another believes the price will slightly decrease in the New Year.

Dan Boulton of NorQuin at Saskatoon said there is a world shortage of quinoa, which will increase its price.

“We put our price up a few cents per pound. Right now we’re starting to see the same (price) to a slight increase,” he said, noting NorQuin has bids between 60 and 70 cents/lb. for quinoa.

Percy Phillips of Prairie Quinoa at Portage la Prairie, Man. sees it the other way around.

“I believe the pricing for the commodity generally will be decreasing slightly over the winter and into the spring season,” he said.

Boulton and Phillips agreed more quinoa will be grown in Canada, given rising consumption. According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 numbers, the most recent data, nearly 11,700 acres of quinoa were grown in the country that year, compared to about 320 acres in 2011.

Most of the 2016 quinoa crop was grown in Saskatchewan with about 9,500 acres; Alberta was second, with close to 1,050. Manitoba had a little more than 900 acres of quinoa; Ontario’s crop was roughly 350.

Quinoa originated in South America and is noted for its health benefits, such as being gluten-free and high in protein. However, it can be a difficult crop to grow.

“It’s a special crop that requires special attention,” Boulton said.

One issue has been that there are no registered chemicals available to use on quinoa.

“Most of our growers have adapted and figured out ways to keep the crop clean before and after,” he said, noting growers use integrated pest management practices.

Although quinoa has a reputation for growing well in poorer soils, staff at Prairie Quinoa have found it’s not a requirement, as found with crops grown successfully near Melita and Swan River in western Manitoba.

“Just like other crops, the better the quality of the soil, the better chance of a successful crop with a commercially acceptable yield,” Phillips said.

— Glen Hallick writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow CNS Canada at @CNSCanada on Twitter.

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