An in-depth look at market conditions for feed, green and yellow peas with some help from Chuck Penner of LeftField Commodity Research.

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Canada, the world’s largest dry pea producer and exporter, a position it has held since 1998, is expected to increase its total production for the third year in a row. In its most recent Outlook for Principal Field Crops report released on June 14, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) maintained its prediction of a 10% increase in Canadian pea output this year, rounding out at 3.1 mt.

Judging by the last two harvests, which totaled 2.5 and 2.8 mt respectively, it would appear that the growth of the Canadian pea market is even-keeled. However, as Chuck Penner of LeftField Commodity Research points out, a closer look at the data reveals some interesting and unexpected developments this year.

“When StatCan came out with its acreage numbers it showed that pea acres this year are roughly in line with last year, roughly in line with expectations. But in this latest report they also break down greens versus yellows. I had expected a big increase in greens but was told, ‘well there’s no green seed available.’ The reason that’s the case is that we hit absolute record prices for green peas—there are none left. But we ended up with quite a sizable increase in green pea acreage. That was, at least to some people, a surprise,” Penner told IFT.

“Meanwhile yellow pea acres are actually probably going to be down a little bit this year. So on the surface you look at the total number for pea acreage and you say ‘ok, well it’s the same as last year, no big story here.’ But it’s that breakdown—quite a bit more greens and less yellows—that adds some interest for the coming year.”

Canadian Peas





Production (kt) 3,018 2,502 2,830 3,120
Exports (kt) 3,012 2,096 2,350 2,400
Area Seeded (kha) 1,467 986 1,316 1,388
Area Harvested (kha) 1,389 974 1,311 1,355

Current prices for green and yellow peas fall right in line with Penner’s observation. As the market transitions from old crop to new crop, green pea bids to farmers have fallen to around $15-15.50 per bushel from their record price of $17-18 per bushel just a few months ago. Prices for the new crop, which will hit the market in August, are leveling off at around $12.50 per bushel. Penner explains the situation with yellow peas:

“Yellows never reached the peaks that green peas did, simply because yellow pea supplies were a little more comfortable during the year. At their peak we probably hit about $9.50 per bushel and now we’re at about $8.50 per bushel. New crop prices are about $8 per bushel. So they didn’t get as high, but they didn’t drop off as dramatically as we transition into the new crop year,” Penner said.

Canadian Pea Demand From India and China

As always, demand from the Asian giants continues to play an important role in determining export and pricing figures for Canadian peas. India, Canada’s largest export market for pulses, imports over a million metric tons of Canadian peas each year, the majority of which consists of yellow peas.

rxXtjxBvpE6HLHPdqm-7iMIChWDDD3TxoecfKsOS7Ec“In India, they’ll take their desi chickpeas, which are the one that they grind for flour, and they will instead grind or replace part of the grind with yellow peas. So they grow a few there themselves, but most of it is imported. When they have a bad desi chickpea crop that’s when you see the demand really come up,” Penner explains.

When asked what he thought about recent reports of a record chickpea harvest in India, Penner was skeptical and doubted this would have a significant impact on demand for Canadian peas.

“The crop they had harvested in March and April was a bigger crop, but typically they’re still running short of what their overall demand is in the country. We haven’t seen the final production numbers out of India, but I’m thinking it might come down a little bit by the time it’s all counted. It’s still a big crop but short of what their targets are or what their needs are.”

Demand for Canadian peas in China, the second biggest export market for the product, has been steadily growing in recent years, and that trend will continue in 2013. Again yellow peas are the top seller in China, though their common use varies slightly from that of India.

“[In China] they’re actually using the yellow pea starch, and they have found it works very well in things like noodles and some of their baked goods, steamed buns and things like that. That’s been a story that’s been developing for a few years now but it just continues to expand,” Penner said.

“The India demand can be quite variable depending on their situation. China has been steadily growing so it’s a much more stable demand.”

Feed Peas

Canada’s feed pea market, which represents as much as 50 percent of the total output on a given year, depends on a number of driving factors, including prices of non-pea feed ingredients. Some years a poor quality pea crop will result in a higher percentage of feed-grade peas, though this has not been the case this year. The big driver this year, Penner explains, has been the high price level of the global feed complex.

“The feed side has those two main drivers—sometimes they work independently and sometimes they work together. This year the overall feed complex was so high this year that it drew peas, especially yellow peas, into the feed channel that would have been borderline edibles, but it wasn’t an issue of poor quality. It basically outbid some of the export edible demand.

“Earlier in the year we had feed peas being exported to Spain, which is where exports typically go. Spain was hungry for feed and so the peas were able to price themselves into the European market,” Penner adds.

Data on Canadian feed peas tends to be unreliable and is calculated residually based on total production and exports. As Penner points out, under reporting of the overall pea crop will inevitably result in skewed data for feed peas.

“My view is that the 2012 crop was considerably under reported by StatCan; the crop was actually quite a bit larger. We probably saw around 600-700 thousand mt of peas go into the feed channel, but according to StatCan it’s significantly less than that because of this under reporting. They’re just not finding the peas so they say ‘well then there weren’t many.’”

As of July 3, feed pea benchmark prices, according to Alberta Pulse, were $304.69 cdn/mt in Central Alberta, $297.52 cdn/mt in Central Saskatchewan, and $389.39 cdn/mt in Southern Manitoba. These prices are theoretical figures based on the prices of competing feed ingredients in the region.

Feed Pea Benchmark Prices




July 3, 2013 $324.13 $297.52 $389.39
June 19, 2013 $319.10 $316.77 $323.60
June 5, 2013 $304.69 $318.55 $323.62

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