The Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) is the apex body of pulses traders across the world. BusinessLine caught up with Cindy Brown, GPC President, at the India Pulses Conclave, 2020, to find about the latest trends in the global pulses arena. Brown says the increasing interest of the food industry in vegetable protein will drive demand for pulses. Excerpts
What’s your take on the global scenario in pulses?
Things are a bit difficult right now. Some markets have not been able to produce. For example Australia has been suffering from very, very dry conditions and when it started to rain there was flooding. They had a hard time producing the crop. In other areas, the weather situations have been difficult over the past year. North America entirely had too much of rain. India has suffered a little bit with weather issues as well.
What does this mean for supplies?
We have seen some higher prices in pulses over the last year. You know its a supply-and-demand situation. It is a global market and as people have a few pulses they of course need to sell them for more money as their farmer yields were very poor.
What’s the outlook for the year ahead?
I believe this year’s outlook will be great. Farmers will have another chance. Australia has had some rains now and they believe that their next opportunity will be good. I haven’t heard of problems in the India sector. Argentina should start seeding pretty soon. I think things should be okay there. The Black Sea region seems to be doing all right.
How do you see consumption playing out?
Well it depends on the countries. After GPC celebrated the International of Year of Pulses in 2016, we saw pulse consumption started growing in Europe. We have started seeing that people are becoming more aware of pulses. I think the best news in the pulse market is the fact that we are on trend with what people want in vegetable protein. And so, if you look at the world on the protein side of it, many companies are out there developing new products in the market that include pulses to make the products they are making healthier. And people want to be taking care of the earth and know that pulses fit within a very sustainable crop production.
What role do you see for India in this kind of scenario?
I think the possibilities are there. I believe that Indian farmers perhaps could use some help to understand how to grow larger quantities of pulses and how to grow the best varieties. Multinational companies have pretty strict (conditions for) pulses that have certain nutrient levels in them... that work well within their process. Take, for example, Just Inc, which is making eggs from moong beans. They had searched high and low throughout the world to find moong beans that worked well for that product and now they are having a hard time expanding the market because they are unable to find good quantities of moong beans.
There’s a lot of meat protein being developed from pulses, different milks from pulses. We have lots of opportunities and that’s really a growing segment in the market. If you look at the food industry tends, vegetable protein is peaking at this point. This growing interest in vegetable protein will drive the demand for pulses. Yellow peas are being used right now. China is importing them to extract protein and exporting it to different parts of the world. North America is doing it and Europe is doing it. Europe has been innovative with food products. I think we need to help farmers to segment into those type of markets.
With this growing interest worldwide, do you see new areas coming under pulses?
Yes. We see new areas in parts of Africa that have always grown pulses, but they would like to generate more quantities, better production for their farmers. We see areas expanding in the Black Sea region. So, I think pulses have been here since Biblical times as in lentils. They are not going away — because of the sustainability aspects of how pulses can be produced with less water and less fertiliser. Because of the healthy aspects of how pulses help diets and help the planet, pulses are going to continue to grow.