Expansion in import and export of pulses is largely tied to increased demand from Far East Asia and Africa, where some countries have experienced population growth and improved economic conditions, according to a Nov. 23 report from the International Grains Council.
Total world trade in pulses — a category that also includes chickpeas, mung beans and broad beans — averaged 14.5 million tonnes per year in the 2012-16 seasons. Exports of pulses have risen for the past three seasons to an estimated 16.1 million tonnes in 2016, a 2% increase from 15.8 million tonnes in 2015, and a 10% increase compared with 14.6 million tonnes in 2014.
Pulses, the edible seeds from leguminous plants, are allowed to dry in the fields before harvest. They require relatively low water use to thrive, yet provide high levels of protein. Pulses contribute value in farm rotations via soil health by returning nitrogen to the dirt and lessening fertilizer use for subsequent crops.
Dried peas are the top exports among pulses, and are expected to rise 3% in 2017 to 5.7 million tonnes on strong demand from Asia and Africa. Canada is by far the top dried pea exporter, followed by the European Union and Russia.
Australia’s sizable year-over-year increase in predicted pulses exports is due in large part to a record harvest of lentils. Import demand, especially to India, could push Australian export shipments of lentils to 715,000 tonnes, more than triple estimated 2016 shipments. That’s indicative of a worldwide trend toward increased lentil demand. A forecast 14% increase in exports from 2016 to 3.5 million tonnes would be the second highest in history. Australia is also predicted to see a 10% year-over-year increase in chickpeas exports, part of a 4% increase in world trade to 2.4 million tonnes.