Strong demand for durum draws on already tight supply from key producing areas

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

The drought many producers faced this past growing season is continuing to wreak havoc in many different directions. But, what happened with crops that are better suited for hot and dry conditions?

Durum wheat is one of those crops.

Canadian production of durum wheat lies solely in the southern parts of the prairies and is no stranger to a dry bias.  Although parts of the United States, and the Mediterranean basin are known for their production, Canada is a major producer and exporter of the crop. However, 2021 was even too dry for the specialty wheat used in pasta production.

Daniel Ramage, director of market access and trade policy at Cereals Canada, recently chatted with RealAgriculture to hone in on the effects of the dry year on the durum wheat market.

“In a typical year, we account for 50 to 60 per cent of world durum exports. So we are a significant player,” says Ramage. “We’re seeing durum production in Canada down by around 46 per cent over the previous year.”

Globally, durum production is down by 6 per cent year-over-year, says Ramage, which is driven by the decline in production in Canada, the U.S., and Turkey. So what does that mean for the grocery market? Will we see pasta sticker shock the same way we’ve seen it for other products on the shelves?

“What’s important to keep in mind is that globally, production is only down by around 6 per cent. And so that does mean that supplies for producers are going to be a little bit tighter. The extent to which that translates down to the grocery store shelves — I think that’s something that we’re going to have to wait and see,” Ramage explains.

One thing we do know is demand for durum is still very strong, which is going to create some definite tightness in the market, says Ramage. We are running on multiple years of higher consumption than production.

“That very, very strong demand on the consumption is driven by the importance of durum in producing staple products like pasta, which has been, of course, very popular, especially during the pandemic. We’ve seen some strong demand for pasta. And so that’s the scenario this year. We have very strong demand, and tighter supplies in key producing regions,” he notes.

In a typical year, Canada will produce on average 6 million tonnes of durum. As a key producer and exporter, Ramage says we should be able to bounce back fairly quickly.

“If you expect strong seeded area again next year, driven by relatively high prices, I think we could come back and again, continue our place as a very strong and significant player in the durum market,” Ramage says.

Check out the full conversation between Daniel Ramage and RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis, below:

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