Canadian durum quality the worst on record

Commodity News Service Canada — The 2014/15 (Aug/Jul) Canadian durum (CWAD) crop is the worst on record quality-wise, Bruce Burnett, weather and crop specialist with CWB said during a presentation at the Cereals of North America conference in Winnipeg.

Only four per cent of the Canadian crop is grading as number one, with another 19 per cent at number two. The bulk of the crop is rated between number three and number five, with 37 per cent number three, 25 per cent number four and 14 per cent number five, Burnett said.

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But, protein levels for the crop are looking better than last year. However, a recent survey by the Canadian Grain Commission wasn’t able to provide an average protein for number one CWAD because they didn’t get enough samples.

Overall 2014/15 durum production was pegged at 5.233 million tonnes by CWB, which is higher than the most recent Statistics Canada estimate of 4.756 million tonnes. But, the ending stocks situation for the year is still expected to be fairly tight at 1.386 million tonnes, with exports expected to be at about 4.325 million tonnes, Burnett said.

Canada isn’t the only country with quality problems, as it rained in France, Italy and Greece during harvest, downgrading their crops as well. Supplies in Mexico, another major durum producer, are also tight as they are nearing the end of their crop year. These problems have caused a surge in prices, which have doubled, and in some cases, tripled, from year ago levels, Burnett added.

Prairie Ag Hotwire pegs current durum values between about $9.30 and $11.05 per bushel in Alberta and Saskatchewan cash markets, up between $4.70 and $5.40 from year ago levels.

But, the market may be reaching its top, according to Burnett, as quality is all “in the eye of the beholder.” What is rated as a lower quality durum in Canada could still be considered of good quality in another part of the world, he added.

Burnett predicts that some international buyers of high quality durum will start to accept lower quality products because they’re not willing to pay the large premiums. And, it’s already starting to happen.

Yesterday, it was announced that Algeria, who is normally a purchaser of number two quality CWAD, bought some number three CWAD, Burnett added.

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