On the way to a hummus shortage?


PHOTO AKHTAR SOOMRO, REUTERS ARCHIVE

According to Reuters, the yield of the chickpea crop this year is expected to fall by up to 20% due to bad weather in many parts of the world.

Sylvain Charlebois

Sylvain Charlebois
Senior Director, Agri-Food Analytical Sciences Laboratory, Dalhousie University, Special Collaboration

In a few weeks he’ll run out of mustard, sunflower oil and hummus. But when it comes to food security, remember that North America has the happiest people in the world. We can live without mustard or hummus!

Posted at 7:00 am

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have heard about bottlenecks again and again. Most areas of the grocery store are impacted by stock shortages for one reason or another. But the latest headline is about chickpeas.

Many analysts are expecting a significant price decline in the coming months. For westerners, chickpeas are primarily associated with hummus, a source of protein and fiber that’s increasingly popular with curious consumers looking to experiment with new ingredients and dishes. However, there is a lack of chickpeas.

According to Reuters, the yield of the chickpea crop this year is expected to fall by up to 20% due to bad weather in many parts of the world. India is the world’s largest producer of chickpeas, followed by Turkey and Russia. Canada ranks ninth and most of our production is for export.

Chickpea acreage in Canada fell this year as other commodity prices became more attractive to farmers.

The same phenomenon is observed in the United States. Russia and Ukraine are among the top exporters of chickpeas, but not this year.

Ukraine is experiencing a shortage of at least 50,000 tons of chickpeas destined for the European market. Russia suffers from trade sanctions as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

nutritional power

Chickpeas are a cheap and effective source of plant-based protein. In North America, according to NielsenIQ, the price has already increased by 12% compared to the previous year. Chickpeas are used to make hummus, but they can also be popped and then eaten like popcorn, or ground into flour and used in many plant-based protein products that we find at the grocery store. The legume is commonly used in soups and stews.

Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse for consumers who either don’t choose animal protein or can’t afford it.

They are naturally low in sodium and sugar and cholesterol free. And for people who need gluten-free products, they are a godsend.

Last week the world got good news, or almost. Ukraine and Russia have finally signed an agreement in which they pledge to ship tons of essential grain from long-blocked southern Ukrainian ports. Grains blocked in ports include wheat, barley, and chickpeas.

However, the port of Odessa was bombed just 24 hours after the signing of this agreement, but the agreement as such is still valid. Russia’s reputation for this type of deal is not very reassuring.

A food insecurity crisis remains inevitable in some parts of the world, particularly in Northeast Africa and the Middle East, but the deal will mitigate its impact in many regions.

For the West, commodity prices have fallen steadily since May. Wheat hit a record high of $13.38 on May 17 and has fallen below $8 a bushel this week. Corn, canola, sunflower oil, rice and soybean prices are all down from the previous week.

The agreement between Ukraine and Russia is helping, but prices are still falling. Sourcing ingredients for food manufacturers is getting cheaper and cheaper, which of course helps against food inflation here in the West.

As our agricultural production slows in North America and Europe in the coming weeks, we should expect more reports of grain shortages. So you have to pull yourself together. Mustard and sunflower seeds have already been reported; Future studies will certainly focus on chickpeas.

North America will lack for nothing. But other poorer regions will not be so lucky.

We are beginning to see signs of civil unrest in many parts of the world. While food inflation eases here, the worst is yet to come in many other parts of the world.

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