Growers are warning of a global chickpea shortage, jeopardizing the supply of hummus, a development that could have serious consequences for countries that depend on the legumes as an essential protein source.
According to the Global Pulse Confederation, chickpea supplies could fall by as much as 20% this year as production has been affected by difficult weather conditions and the war in Ukraine.
According to Navneet Singh Chhabra, director of Shree Sheela International, a global chickpea trader and brokerage firm, sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine have disrupted shipments from Russia, usually one of the largest exporters of chickpeas, accounting for about a quarter of the total. world trade interrupted.
Meanwhile, Ukraine was unable to seed its entire chickpea crop due to the war, removing 50,000 tons normally en route to Europe.
“Russia exports at least 200,000 to 250,000 tons per year. When the war started in February, the stockpile was completely destroyed,” Jeff Van Pevenage, the chief executive of Columbia Grain International, a grain and legume merchant and supplier headquartered in Portland, Oregon, told Reuters.
“When the war between Russia and Ukraine broke out, demand soared. We saw strong demand from China, then calls from customers in Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
Demand outstrips supply as buyers in South Asia and the Mediterranean try to accommodate dwindling supplies after Turkey imposed an export ban, while yields from Mexico to Australia plummeted due to weather events, including flooding.
The price of a range of hummus products in the main UK supermarkets has risen to 100% since January, according to data provided by research group Assosia to The Guardian. However, the picture is mixed: some prices are unchanged and others have increased by a more modest 6% or 10%. In the US, chickpeas are now 12% more expensive than last year and almost 17% higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to NielsenIQ data seen by Reuters.
Chickpeas are an important source of protein in India and the Middle East, where households are already struggling to cover the rising costs of food imports such as wheat.
Farmers in the US — the world’s fourth largest chickpea exporter — planted 5% fewer acres this year as bad weather prevented spring planting and prioritized more lucrative staple crops like wheat and corn. According to the US government, the country’s inventories have fallen more than 10% from last year as inventories were already low after devastating droughts from North Dakota to Washington state affected production in 2021.
Ole Houe, the director of advisory services at the agricultural brokerage Ikon Commodities in Sydney, said some Australian farmers may be replanting.
“Parts of the planted area are still under water,” said Houe, adding that Australia mainly exports chickpeas to its most consuming markets, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.