High chickpea prices seen ending in 2012

Don’t expect Prairie chickpea prices to climb any further before the end of 2011 from their current level. In fact, values will start to fade beginning in early 2012, according to an industry participant.

"We are at the high point as we move through the Christmas period," said Darren Lemieux of Simpson Seeds at Moose Jaw, Sask.

A lack of global supply has been the driving force in firm western Canadian chickpea prices, he said. Poor crops in Turkey and Australia have accounted for some of the tight global supply.

An early fall frost in Saskatchewan tightened the Prairie chickpea supply, he said, and the frost in the region pushed both the chickpea yield and quality down, adding some price support.

While current global chickpea supplies are very compact, global demand is very solid, he said, with much of the demand for western Canadian chickpeas is coming from Europe, South America, the Middle East, and North Africa.

However, the plateau for Prairie chickpea prices is about to come to an end.

"I can see values sliding," said Lemieux on the forecast for Prairie chickpea prices heading into 2012.

As Canada heads into winter, other countries will be boosting world supply, he said, with chickpea crops in Argentina, Mexico, and India crops to be harvested within the next four months.

Argentina’s crop is due at the end of November, while Mexico’s will come in February and India’s in March, he said.

Higher projected yields and better quality crops from those countries will push overall prices down for Prairie chickpeas, he said.

However, Lemieux could not give an estimate on what price levels Western Canada’s chickpeas will fall to in the new year.

Elevator bids for chickpeas in Western Canada are currently as high as C57 cents per pound, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire. That’s unchanged from a week ago — and 0.5 cents lower than a month ago, when the price was at its highest level for the year.

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