Flax prices see upward bump on increased demand

CNS Canada –– Foreign demand has picked up in the flax market, according to a grain brokerage firm — and despite increased competition, Canadian prices have seen a slight uptick as limited quality flax is available.

Old-crop flax prices have increased slightly since harvest, as farmers have been firm on sales, and demand has picked up throughout the market, said Nathan Bosch, merchant at Saskatoon-based Rayglen Commodities.

“The Chinese market has picked up a little after working through some of their stocks. This has happened a little sooner than expected,” Bosch said via email.

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Delivered elevator prices for flax sit at about $11.39 per bushel in Saskatchewan, $11.65 in Manitoba, and $11.11 in Alberta, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

Canada’s seeded flax area was higher in 2015 than in the previous year, but the yield wasn’t as good as producers had expected, which is also supporting Canadian prices, said Michael Popowich, co-owner of Yorkton, Sask. flax firm TA Foods.

“There’s lots of flax out there, but how much of it is actually better than feed grade, I’m not too sure.”

The amount of flax available is similar to last year’s, he added, and market watchers were expecting the volume to pressure prices — but now the availability of quality flax is lower than expected.

“So there’s a lot of flax, but a lot of it hasn’t been as good,” he said. “That makes the prices go up on average, if the producers are looking for the food side.”

However, increased competition from other growing regions, such as Ukraine, is keeping a lid on Canadian prices.

Analysts out of that region are forecasting record flaxseed exports.

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @jade_markus on Twitter.

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