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APG Delegates Attend Global Pulse Confederation (CICILS) for Networking and Information Sharing (PCN Summer 2015) JUL 2 2015 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.

The world pulse trade converged upon Las Vegas, Nevada for four days of meetings and conference sessions in April to learn, do business and network.

The Global Pulse Confederation (CICILS) conference changes locations each year and the opportunity for it to be so close to Canada provided a fantastic chance to have excellent representation from the Alberta Pulse Growers in attendance. Five members travelled to Nevada to explore the diverse global industry to which Canadian pulse crops are exported.

Among the market outlook offerings, there were sessions and meetings that focused on planning and preparations for International Year of Pulses (IYOP) in 2016. Allison Ammeter, APG Chair and the Canadian Chair for International Year of Pulses, gave an update to conference participants alongside other participating countries about what will be key activities for Canada. Activities are being developed across the globe from many of the major pulse countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, United States and Canada.

A centerpiece project for the launch of IYOP 2016 is the development of a pulse brand. Conference participants were brought up to speed on the progress. Industry members working on the project envision that all facets of the industry from grower organizations through to food processors and retail will have an opportunity to capture value from the new brand and the brand campaign. Each segment of the world will have the chance to create a brand campaign around the messages. For North America, the objective will be to increase pulse consumption and focus the brand campaign on the millennial audience.

Linked to the opportunity with the branding initiative, food companies like General Mills, and ingredient suppliers like AGT Foods, presented their vision for the branding effort. Both companies are beginning to see increased opportunity for pulses as inclusions in their whole and ingredient portfolios for the processing industry. Distinguished Canadian diabetes researcher Dr. John Sievenpiper presented about how the pulse health story is progressing towards health claim statements, which will be another marketing opportunity for food processing companies to capitalize on besides the use of the new brand.

The industry also learned about another initiative to spur greater innovation via the Pulse Innovation Project (PIP). Conceptualized at McGill University with researchers, a variety of industry representatives and policy makers, the PIP is a pre-competitive forum for pulse industry innovation. Areas of innovation are recognized specific to food, health and business with an additional influence area for policy. Pulse Canada participates in the PIP and this opportunity to learn and share ideas with the international collaborative team provides clarity for Canadian industry research and leadership.

An important component of the conference are the presentations on market outlooks. Commentary from across the world’s major pulse regions on the various pulse crops were delivered by traders and dealers to a packed hall of conference participants. Outlooks included commentary on lentil, dry bean, chickpea and field peas plus some other pulse crops which are not part of the Canadian production but important to the rest of the world.

Estimates on chickpea for 2015-16 were moving higher in the opinions of the traders. For Canadian chickpea production, the observation is that the industry is demanding larger chickpea. Eight millimetre sizes are currently produced in Canada but larger sizes are produced in other parts of the world.

For lentils, the trade is anticipating more lentil acres for Canada. India reported that it is challenged with weather during their rabi crop season (grown November through April) and will most likely be looking to import more lentils to cover their needs. Pakistan is also currently taking contracts for shipment of lentil into January 2016.

APG Vice-Chair D’Arcy Hilgartner said that he received many questions from conference delegates about red lentils.

“The first question was did I have any red lentils,” he noted. “After that, the people I spoke to wanted to know about my farm and what crops I produced. As well as my ability to export them.”

Faba beans were discussed during the session on dry beans. Of interest to Canadian growers is that the globe is recognizing the increase in faba bean production coming from Canada. European traders shared that changes to European agriculture policy are expected to lead to greater pea and faba bean production across the continent which will increase competition. Other dry beans discussed during the session from the United States and Canada were forecasted to have steady acres similar to last year’s numbers. The only difference is a shift from one bean type to another to address market needs. At the time of the conference (April 12-15), it was expected that there would be downward values on pricing.

The view of the trade for field peas in 2015-16 from across the globe is one that Canada will continue being the major exporter as it currently stands at 54 per cent of exports, followed by France at 11 per cent and the United States and Russia at nine per cent. At the time of the conference, Canadian acreage was expected to be around four million metric tonnes (MMT). China, Canada’s new largest market, is anticipating purchasing over one MMT of peas from Canada this year. Traders cautioned that the demand for green pea would be less than what was seen the past few years and prices would even out to be more in line with yellow pea.

A sub-theme that continued through the market outlook session was transportation. While the Canadian industry continues to work to provide comments to the Canadian Transportation Act review and works with the Ag Transport Coalition, the marketplace wants to know that when they purchase Canadian product that it will be able to get to market. Canadians in the audience assured traders that there are improvements and continued to be hopeful about the harvest in 2015-16. Ammeter said that transportation was the top issue she kept hearing about from delegates.

“They wanted to hear that transportation was not going to be a problem for delivery,” she recalled. “They also wanted to know what the crop quality was like, or going to be like, even though it wasn’t yet seeded.”

Third Member of the APG Executive, Doug Sell, was also concerned about the remarks from delegates regarding transportation issues.

“The trade mentioned that Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier was really being eroded,” he said. “Our rail system has really let us down, and is costing us sales and profits. Now, it could also be used as leverage by buyers to try and reduce the price offered, so I suppose the perceived unreliability could even hurt us.”

However, Sell’s experience at the convention was generally positive.

“My biggest take away was the scope of our industry on the global stage,” he said. “I really felt privileged to be able to experience first-hand the truly great product we grow and how the international community is looking for and wanting Canada’s production.”

APG Director Don Shepert was impressed by the connections made at the event.

“It’s an industry conference that’s interesting to see from a producer’s perspective,” he said. “I asked a question about green pea prices to a panel and a panel member from Australia came up to talk to me afterwards.”

Overall, for Alberta Pulse Growers, the chance to observe and meet with the global pulse trade provides growers with an appreciation for the complexity and the diversity of our markets.

“I was impressed by the number of international delegates with their diverse needs,” Hilgartner explained. “Different regions of the world were looking for so many different types of pulses. And because Canada is such a large exporter of pulses to the world we were a key part of many of the supply and demand discussions. There was a lot of interest and excitement about the International Year of Pulses, which was great to see.”