Pulse weekly outlook: Lentils stabilize with seeding underway

MarketsFarm — Lentil bids in Western Canada may have come off their recent highs, but prices are still solid and should encourage more seeded area this spring.

Increased demand tied to the COVID-19 pandemic gave lentil prices a boost in March, with the largest gains in red lentils which hit highs around the 32 cents/lb. area.

Red lentils have fallen back slightly, to trade in the 25- to 30-cent area, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data. Large green lentils are also priced around 30 cents at the high end.

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“The last couple of weeks have been fairly stable,” Kevin Slizer at Rayglen Commodities in Saskatoon said of the current state of lentil markets.

Statistics Canada on Thursday forecast a slight 1.9 per cent decline in lentil area in 2020, to 3.71 million acres. However, average trade guesses had been for an increase on the year, with the recent strength in the market likely drawing in more interest.

With seeding now underway, Silzer said “there is pretty strong speculation that the numbers will be higher on lentil acres.”

While acres may end up above the early expectations, price trends are harder to predict.

“It could trend sideways, it could take off, it could go lower — with COVID it’s very unpredictable,” Silzer, said adding that no one in the industry was sticking necks out one way or the other, given the general uncertainty.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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