Pulses

Dried lentils: EU plans to become more independent

March 29, 2023 at 3:40 PM , Der AUDITOR
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OTTAWA/MADRID. The cultivation of pulses, including lentils, is to be significantly expanded in Europe, and many countries are already making arrangements. At the moment, the EU is still heavily dependent on lentil imports, which mainly come from Turkey and Canada.

Crop losses due to drought

Lentil production is on the rise in Europe, as the experts from Chelmer Foods report. While production was still at 75,000 mt in 2017, it was already 116,000 mt in 2021. Spain and France are the most important producing countries. Although the acreage in 2022 was similar to the previous year, there were massive crop losses due to the severe drought in the growing countries; Chelmer Foods is talking about a decline of 30-50% here. Europe is also dependent on high lentil imports, most of which come from Turkey and North America. The largest European importer is Spain, which imported more than 50,000 mt of lentils each year between 2017 and 2021. Europe's total average annual imports are 230,000 mt.

More independence in Europe

In the coming years, the aim is to further increase pulses production in Europe in order to be less dependent on other countries. The main policy driver for this change is the “Farm to Fork” strategy, which is at the heart of the European Green Deal and aims to increase pulse production by 2030 and limit imports from outside the EU. Chelmer Foods states that Poland has already enacted a new regulation regarding the cultivation of pulses and farmers are to receive more training here. Something similar is happening with the EPPIC (Economically-Powered Plant Transition through Innovation In Chains) programme in the Netherlands, and France is also making plans in this direction.

German imports are stable

German lentil imports in the period September 2022 to January 2023 were 14,290 mt, a moderate 2.8% below imports in the corresponding period last year. Turkey remains the most important supplier with 4,440 mt, although Canada occupies a very close second place with 4,429 mt. Imports from the USA fell by 24.6% in the same period, and Kazakhstan also delivered 28.1% less lentils to Germany. The Netherlands and India, however, were able to increase their shipments significantly. Prices for dried black lentils on the European spot market are currently at USD 1.38/kg CFR Hamburg.

Lentil* imports, Germany, in mt

Supplier

2021/22

2022/23

Diff.

Turkey

4,261

4,440

4.2%

Canada

3,878

4,429

14.2%

USA

2,663

2,007

-24.6%

Russia

868

775

-10.7%

Netherlands

670

760

13.4%

Kazakhstan

615

442

-28.1%

Italy

347

347

0.0%

Belgium

349

275

-21.2%

Czech Republic

321

273

-15.0%

India

179

268

49.7%

Others

545

274

-49.7%

Total

14,696

14,290

-2.8%

Federal Statistical Office of Germany / Sep-Jan

*07134000 Dried, shelled lentils, whether or not skinned or split

Higher yields in Canada

In Canada, the acreage for the 2023/24 season is 1.73 million ha, just below the previous year's 1.749 million ha. However, this should be offset by higher yields, estimated at 1.55 mt/ha this year (2022: 1.34 mt/ha). Total production for 2022/23 is an estimated 2.3 million mt, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and could rise to 2.65 million mt for the coming season. Canadian exports are estimated at 2.3 million mt for the current season, with India, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates being the main export destinations.

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