Europe: Significantly increase the production of legumes
Pulse production in the European Union is expected to grow at a steady rate over the next decade, reducing the need for imports, according to two industry officials.
Cor Hage, negotiating with AGT Foods Europe, said EU pulse production is expected to increase to 6.3 million tonnes by 2030, from around 4.5 million tonnes in 2020.
The main growth will be in chickpeas, lentils and field beans, he told delegates attending a recent webinar on the World Confederation of Impulses.
In the short term, he predicts an increase in pulse imports due to a disappointing 2021 harvest.
But in the long run, he believes imports will decline as the EU becomes more self-reliant in pulse production.
âWe are at the start of a huge change in our agriculture industry,â Hage said.
The main political driver of this change is the farm-to-fork strategy, which is at the heart of the European Green Deal. The strategy aims to make the EU’s agricultural sector more sustainable.
Consumers are becoming aware of the heavy carbon footprint of importing food from other parts of the world.
“There is increased interest in legumes grown in the EU which will continue,” he said.
Greg Bartley, Director of Crop Protection and Crop Quality at Pulse Canada, said the changing political direction of the EU presents both opportunities and challenges for Canadian farmers and exporters.
The association believes that Canadian pulses fit well into most sustainability initiatives.
âWe would be willing to compare Canadian pulse production to anywhere in the world,â he said.
Bartley believes Canadian pulses will always be recognized as viable and sustainable alternatives to EU pulses despite differences in transport due to some of the practices employed by Canadian farmers, such as no-till farming.
What worries Pulse Canada are some of the high-level targets set out in the new EU strategy, in particular the goal of reducing pesticide use by 50% by 2030.
âIf they want to take tools away from their farmers, the ability to protect their crops, this poses a significant challenge to expanding pulse production in the EU,â he said.
It would also have ripple effects for Canadian farmers if the EU established more stringent maximum residue limits on imported products.
A good example is glyphosate, which is approved in the EU until December 15, 2022. Hage believes it will not be renewed by regulators and that the chemical will indeed be banned.
âIt’s in the cards. It will go that way without a doubt, âhe said.
Then the EU will put in place more stringent maximum residue limits on imported products.
âIt may take a few more years,â Hage said.
Bartley isn’t convinced that a ban is a slam dunk. He said early indications suggest European regulators will align themselves with other jurisdictions and consider the chemical to be safe, but the situation is worth watching.
“We take what the EU does very seriously and hope that the EU is a market that we can continue to serve in the long term,” he said.
The EU imported 100,000 tonnes of Canadian lentils and 90,000 tonnes of Canadian dry beans in 2020, making it a major customer for both products.
Hage said legume production in the EU is expected to increase, while dairy and meat production will contract as the EU shifts to what it sees as more sustainable forms of protein production.
European consumers are expected to increase their pulse intake by 106 grams per person per week while decreasing their meat intake by 192 grams by 2030.
Alex Cherki, CEO of CIACAM, a French pulse processing company, said France is implementing a $ 144 million strategy for Protein Plant 2030 to reduce pulse imports by increasing domestic production.
French green lentils are generally the largest legume crop in the country. Farmers overproduced the harvest in 2019, harvesting 45,000 tonnes.
It has weighed down acres over the past two years. In 2021, France experienced poor growing conditions and only harvested 20,000 tonnes of “very poor quality” lentils.
Chickpeas are the other main legume crop produced in the country, with 23,000 tonnes of production in 2021. It produces chickpeas of seven to nine millimeters, but over the next two years it will increase to 10 to 12 mm. product.
There is not much of an export market for French green lentils, but the country’s chickpeas are desirable and are sent to markets like Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.
France imports around 75,000 tonnes of pulses per year, mainly lentils and beans from markets such as Canada. The objective is to reduce this volume to 50,000 tonnes by 2030.