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Optimism Over Rising Pulse Usage

ROME - Jul 9/24 - SNS -- Global pulse consumption is expcted to continue to grow as peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas regain importance in diets in many regions of the world, according to a joint report from the OECD and FAO.

They predict global average annual per capita food use will increase to 8.6 kg by 2033. The OECD and Fao expect "per capita food consumption is projected to increase in almost all regions over the coming decade, with the largest increase expected in Europe (+3% p.a.).

"Global supply is projected to increase by 25 million meric tons (MT). Almost 40% of this increase is expected to come from Asia, particularly India, the world’s largest producer."

The report continues as follows:

Sustained yield improvements are projected to raise India’s domestic production by an additional 8 million MT by 2033. India has introduced high-yielding hybrid seeds, supported mechanization, and implemented a minimum support price aimed at stabilizing farmer’s income.

In addition, the central government and some state governments have included pulses in their procurement programs, although not with the same geographical coverage as for wheat and rice.

This expected production expansion is driven by the assumption of continued intensification of pulses production systems due to improved yields and intensified land use. Almost 60% of production growth can be attributed to land use intensification during the projection period, and the remaining 40% to yield improvements. Particularly in Africa, a combination of area expansion and yield growth is estimated to add about 0.8 million MT annually to the region’s production.

This Outlook assumes that growth will be sustained by increased intercropping of pulses with cereals, especially in Asia and Africa where smallholder farmers represent a large share of producers. The projected yield improvements for pulses will continue to lag behind those for cereals and oilseeds because in most countries pulses are not overlooked in the development of high-yielding varieties, improved irrigation systems, and agricultural support policies.

World trade in pulses grew from 15 million MT to 19 million MT over the past decade and is projected to reach 22 million MT by 2033. Canada will remain the main exporter of pulses, with volumes expected to grow from 4.4 million MT at present to 5.7 million MT by 2033, followed by Australia and Russia with 2.8 million MT and 2.1 million MT of exports by 2033, respectively. International prices in nominal terms are expected to decrease further until 2025 then increase slightly over the coming decade, while real prices will decline.

Current Market Conditions

India is by far the largest producer of pulses, accounting for about 28% of global production in the base period. Canada, China and the European Union are the next largest producing countries, with around 5% of global production.

The Asian market accounts for 52% of all consumption but only about 43% of production, making it the most significant import destination. About 20% of global production is traded internationally with Canada (23% of global trade) by far the largest exporter and China the largest importer (14% of global trade). Africa has further expanded its production and consumption in the past decade and has remained largely self-sufficient.

In 2023, the global pulses market reached a volume of 95 million MT, after an average annual growth of 1.9% p.a. during the previous decade. This growth was led by Asia and Africa. World trade volumes were registered at 18.8 million MT, 1 million MT lower than in 2022.

Main Demand Drivers

As pulses are associated with various health benefits and represent an important meat substitute due to their high protein content, health and environmentally conscious consumers are increasingly integrating them into their daily diets, which in turn is propelling the growth of the global pulses market.

Rapid urbanization, changing lifestyles, and hectic work schedules are also making healthy snack foods popular amongst the working population, and pulses are increasingly used in the processing of ready-to-eat (RTE) food products.

The health and environmental benefits attributed to pulses are reasons why governments of pulses- producing countries are providing assistance to farmers, and thus supporting growth of the market.

Support to the production of pulses production plays an important role in the Protein Strategy of the European Union where pulses are a major ingredient in products such as meat substitutes.

Depending on the future dynamics of demand for such products, this could significantly change the future importance of pulses in the agricultural production mix.

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