Pulse weekly outlook: Prairie market ‘nonexistent’ due to trade dispute

Lentil dal. (PulseCanada.com)

CNS Canada — As the western Canadian pulse crop industry awaits news from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India, two traders aren’t holding their breath.

“I’m not expecting any big announcements or any big headway other than wording like ‘working towards understandings’ and things like that,” said Adam Krieser of Canpulse Foods in Saskatoon.

Trudeau is expected to discuss India’s fumigation and import tariffs later this week. CBC on Tuesday quoted Trudeau as saying he would bring up the pulse crop issues with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

While it is encouraging to see Trudeau in India, David Newman of Commodious Trading near Victoria doesn’t expect anything to come out of it, as the government hasn’t been able to resolve pulse issues in the past.

The fumigation issue should be easy to fix, he said. “You send someone there, you make an agreement, you deal with it, that should be easy… there should even be an agreement that could say if you’re going to put in duties you need to give us 60 days’ notice, so that stuff that is on the water doesn’t get charged duty. Those are easy negotiations.”

Even with the Canadian government on the ground in India for negotiations, Newman doesn’t expect any headway to be made, due to Canada having no leverage over India.

Canada had previously been able to make a profit from selling pulses to India when India suffered from bad growing seasons, but lately the tides have shifted, with India growing large crops.

“We have the power when they’re going to starve and they have the power when they’re not going to starve. There’s no middle ground. So I really don’t see how (Trudeau) has any hope at all to fix it,” Newman said.

With India currently not an option for selling pulses, the market is non-existent, according to Newman. His buyers aren’t rushing to buy anything and growers aren’t rushing to sell at low prices.

“People buy their needs and everyone’s trying to buy as cheap as possible and there’s no urgency, there’s no speculation market, no one cares if there’s a crop or not next year. It’s very difficult to see more than four weeks in advance.”

Lately it is taking Newman three weeks to sell about the same amount of pulses he used to sell in one day. Basically, he said, he’s selling enough to keep processors operating and while he’s putting out bids for crops, no farmers are looking to lock in prices for the new year’s crop.

Krieser is experiencing similar selling issues, with exporters and processors are worried of what the downside of the market will be.

“The feel of the market is that nobody is long in the pulse market really other than the farmers right now unfortunately it seems. Nobody sees the need or the market signals to take on a position other than what tomorrow brings,” he said.

Neither Newman nor Krieser expect the market to change any time soon, with Newman saying the current lack of “marketplace” having been the reality for the last few months.

— Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @AshleyMR1993 on Twitter.

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