There Is Gold in Those Fields and Gold in Our Relationships
By Martin Chidwick Agrimonde, Cana
Gold in those fields
The beginning of 2017 brought the stunning news to my Canadian province of Manitoba, that French food company Roquette intend to invest Canadian Dollars 400 million (recently revised to 450 million dollars) in building the world’s biggest fractionation facility for yellow field peas, in the town of Portage La Prairie.
It's a relationship with a part of Canada that can trace its historical relationship with pea fractions back some 30 years, with two operations currently producing pea protein on site. Visionary, on the leading edge, but now seeing a real ally in the march towards general pulse food ingredient applications.
For the writer who also had a stint with a pea fraction company back in the 1990s, this is a dream coming true. At a recent Ag Canada Roundtable, a statistic was shared for North America. If my recollection is correct, it went something like this.
In 2005 there were barely 120 food items/products on the shelf that included pulses in one form or other, including baked beans. In 2015 there were over 1200 items, estimated at just 5% of the potential market..! We have already seen PepsiCo enter the space with investment in hummus production, with last 12 month sales approaching One Billion dollars......and as all pulse traders know, it is chickpeas that have garnered most of the excitement around price and supply and demand over the last several years.
But, to me, the humble yellow pea is where the real 'gold mining' is done. A mining that produces exceptional protein products/ ingredients, soluble and insoluble fibres, and starches that compete with the best. A mining that delivers to the public all the right messages, for healthy planet and healthy people. (Pulse Canada).
But it's not only Roquette who are coming to 'town". There are at least 4 other facilities planned or in the planning stages, including 2 in Alberta and 2 in Saskatchewan to say nothing of those already in existence. Exciting and dynamic growth potential for what is often the cheapest pulse on the planet set to become the centre of exponential growth and the poster child of our industry! Note...I have not even factored the pet food growth into the picture ....but this too is significant.
Gold in our relationships
There is in my hands.....ironically sporting a yellow (pea colour) cover, a book entitled "Enough Said"... 'What's gone wrong with the language of politics'?' - penned by Mark Thompson, President and CEO of The New York Times Company. He talks of a crisis of trust. That public anger is rising and faith in political leaders is falling. The book covers the public language we have been eroded to in the English speaking world. 'Compressed, immediate, sometimes brilliantly impactful, but robbed of most of its explanatory power'. Insightful. In our industry we have just come off the dynamic and compelling International Year of Pulses 2016, in which we enjoyed the spectacle of over 3.5 billion social media hits in one form or another, and in multi languages, but with a common theme of ' millennial speak'.
How many of us are plugged in to this arena and are able to 'mine' the gold within? I digress. I am in my 38th year of this incredible pulses industry. I would contend that globally, we transcend political correctness and stifling convention, by the relationships we build and by the language that we use. By the respect we afford one another's culture. By the ability to understand respective faiths and by the beauty that lies within the friendships we form. In the CICILs conventions of the past, be it Goa, India or in Brisbane, Australia or in down town Paris (Sial) meetings, we have talked at length of arbitration and then dispute resolution mechanisms. We have had our 'policing' challenges of trades that have gone awry, yet there is an almost unwritten law that we generally all subscribe to...and it is 'golden'..."do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
"We are an industry on the rise. We are a people who love and appreciate that we handle a product not simply generic commodity. Like connoisseurs of fine wine, we appreciate the nuances, the colours, the vibrancy of literally 100s and 100s of pulse types and their applications.
A search of the Internet and you will find food companies that get it as well. In fact some wax lyrical in Shakespearean fashion! A recent publication suggested that by 2030 we will need to grow supply of pulses by 23% globally... That's about 20 million tons additional. I actually believe the number could be closer to 40% (or about 35 million tons) given the traction we are getting from food ingredient companies, the media, the comprehension of the need to promote sustainability, and the health messaging.
We are in good hands. It is not the exclusive domain of the West to dominate the messaging and lead the demand. Some of the importing nations in the East (and I am conscious of writing from a Westerner’s perspective but am confident the reader will forgive me... please) have lead the way and educated the exporting nations to the pleasures of pulses consumption on a greater scale. I view our global friendships of higher worth than gold.
I view what we handle as a higher intrinsic value than gold. We are a privileged people who are engaged in the pulses industry and I hope we can continue to grow our friendships and encourage the newcomers to appreciate just how privileged, just how 'golden' our participation with one another is. Buyer, broker, seller, trader, processor, consumer, competitor alike... along with all the service providers we need... it is better than 'gold'.