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Market Outlooks and IYP Impacts Exchanged at Global Pulse Convention in Turkey (PCN Fall 2016) SEP 19 2016 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Allison Ammeter, APG Chair

In May, I was given the opportunity to represent Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) and also the Canadian International Year of Pulses 2016 committee by attending the Global Pulse Convention (GPC) in Turkey. This annual convention gathers representatives from the pulse trade, from food processors, and from national groups working to promote pulses, allowing attendees to network while getting up-to-date in the pulse world.

The convention in Cesme, Turkey kicked off with an address from Huseyin Arslan, GPC President. He spoke about some of the exciting things that were available for attendees to see – 9,000-year-old pulses and the international photography competition of pulses around the world, both of which were on display in the foyer.

He talked about how pulses are increasing in production around the world and yet research spending has not kept pace – one of the things that really needs to be changed, and that we’re hoping IYP will help to change. He mentioned a new initiative by GPC to get a “best before” date on cans instead of “expiry” date in order to eliminate food waste. He reminded us that in the next 40 years the world needs to produce the equivalent of all the food produced in the last 10,000 years!

This stirring address set the tone for the rest of the convention. We heard from the Secretary of India, the Argentinean Minister of Agriculture, the Sri Lanka Minister of Industry and Commerce, and from the Turkish Minister of Food and Agriculture. Each official stressed the importance of pulses to their countries.

Dr. Mahmoud Solh, Director General of ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas) spoke to us about the importance of pulses to world agriculture in fighting malnutrition. He mentioned how they help to provide nutrition to fight anemia in children, how cereals and pulses together bring a balance in proteins and nutrients to diets, and the important issue of diversification to cereal base systems that pulses bring.

ICARDA has been a leader in research and genetic improvements, and he talked about the impact of research which increases yields and drought tolerance in developing countries such as Ethiopia, or adding iron and zinc to help cope with the “hidden hunger” of low-nutrient foods. Clearly, we still have our work cut out for us, and a recent memorandum of understanding between GPC and ICARDA will aid this research.

After hearing representatives of different nations talking about the importance of pulses, we moved on to talking about what IYP has accomplished so far. We heard about how incredibly successful the media campaign has been, how the “Love Pulses” product showcases from around the world were so well represented, and we were able to meet Charlotte Reynolds, the winner of the virtual competition in the UK.

We heard from Cindy Brown, Chair of the national committees, about the plethora of resource material that IYP has given us – pictures, info graphics, and recipes that have been gathered together on for chefs, gourmets, and average consumers to access. Gordon Bacon, Pulse Canada CEO, spoke on the Global Pulse Brand being launched and its value to the industry.

We also heard from all of the national committees that were in attendance about what each nation had been doing to celebrate IYP – reports were brought forward from Spain, United States, the UK, Argentina, India, Singapore, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Sri Lanka, China, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Myanmar, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Egypt, France, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Ireland, and Canada! Each of them are planning and executing very exciting events and programs to celebrate International Year of Pulses, many of which will continue into future years.

On Day 2, we went into probably the most important sessions for the traders – the outlooks! There was great interest in sessions featuring outlooks on lentils, beans, chickpeas, and peas, drawing attention and many questions from the audience. Canada features prominently in all of these sessions, as we are the largest exporter of pulses in the world, exporting to over 150 countries.

A fascinating presentation on new foods and new markets powered by pulses was given by AGT’s Murad Al-Katib. In addition to whole pulses, fractions of pulse protein, starch and fibre are becoming important food ingredients. By adding these ingredients to products, food processors are able to add protein and fibre, lower their carbon footprint, and achieve a “clean label,” which are all important consumer concerns. Last year alone, there were 3,956 product launches in North America with pulse ingredients!

To give us an understanding of the importance of science in driving markets for new product development, Dr. Peter Jones from the Richardson Centre spoke on the health benefits of pulses. Research is showing that pulses regulate blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, assist in maintaining a healthy weight, and slow down blood sugars to mitigate diabetes. More research is needed so that we are able to make a solid health claim on pulse products, but all current research is encouraging.

An important part of any commodity market is transportation, and pulses are no exception. A discussion of the global sea container trade, ports, and infrastructure was truly enlightening. There are 500 container ports worldwide and 50 shipping companies. Modernization is needed in many areas, and port storage is an ongoing problem in many countries. I realized Canada is not the only one dealing with transportation issues.

Having said all this, the question could be asked, “Is it worth sending a representative from Alberta Pulse Growers to the global convention?” I would say YES.

First of all, the trade really are impacted when there are Canadian farmers available to talk about what we are doing and how we are doing it. Canada is a big deal in the pulse world!

Second, it gives us valuable insight in order to direct Alberta Pulse Growers on how best to spend our research dollars when we can see not only the provincial outlook but the global outlook as well.

Third, there is great value in networking with the other country organizations, sharing problems, solutions, and ideas to benefit all of us.

All in all, the value of having been there, met the people, and interacted with them is difficult to measure, but I think that it was well worth it. I would also like to add that I am honoured to have had the opportunity, and work to represent Alberta and Canada well.