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Pulse Market Insight #242

The first quarter of the 2023/24 marketing year is now in the rearview mirror, but gives us some signals of how the rest of the year could play out. Of course, nothing is written in stone and markets are continually evolving. There’s always the possibility of surprises, either positive or negative, in both the supply and demand sides of the outlook.

At this stage of the year, when the Canadian crop is in the bin, attention shifts to demand factors, especially exports. We use two sources of export data, each with some limitations. Monthly export numbers from StatsCan provide the most complete information, but they aren’t as current. StatsCan issues export data 5-6 weeks after the fact, with September exports showing up in the first week of November. The Canadian Grain Commission reports exports weekly, but these don’t include exports by container, which are sizable for pulses and other special crops.

Before getting into details, it’s worth noting that exports in the first month or two of the marketing year include a mix of old-crop and new-crop inventories. Export potential early in the year can be limited (or boosted) by how much of last year’s inventory is still available, and that can vary by crop. More important, availability of new-crop pulses was seriously reduced by the 2023 drought. This means that for most crops, 2023/24 exports won’t be able to achieve normal levels, regardless of demand.

The StatsCan data shows that pea exports in August and September followed the normal seasonal pattern, but amounts didn’t quite keep up to the average. China is still the dominant destination, but some demand is coming from other countries, including Bangladesh and Cuba. If there is a bright side to weaker yellow pea prices, it’s that they can spur more demand from some price-sensitive destinations. Exports to the US so far have been quieter than usual, mainly because its own pea crop in 2023 was larger. The CGC weekly data suggests October exports will also be below average.

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