Lentils Market Update – December 2023

3 Types of Lentils, Brown, Green, Orange

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Lentils Market Overview

According to FAO, global lentils production reached 6 650 000 tons in 2022, marking 17 % increase from the previous year’s 5,65 million tons. In our latest 2023 Lentils Market Update, we focus on lentils production in Turkey and the leading European producers.

Discover the current trends, challenges, and production statistics of lentils in Turkey, alongside specific insights into the European lentil market. What lies ahead for lentils in Europe? Can Europe achieve self-sufficiency through its own production? All these questions will be answered within this article.

Red Lentils in Turkey: Harvest and Export Stats

2023 Red Lentil Harvest Overview in Turkey

In Turkey, the vast majority, nearly 90%, of produced lentils, are red lentils. The 2023 harvest for red lentils concluded in July, while green lentils were harvested until the end of August. According to Turkstat, Turkey’s 2023 red lentil production stands at 424 tons, with an estimated 40 thousand tons of green lentils, resulting in a slight increase in production compared to 2022. Despite a smaller sowing area, favorable weather conditions this year boosted the yields, contributing to a slightly higher crop output than in 2022. Final statistics including sowing and yield will be updated later by Turkstat.

Green Lentils in Farmers Hands
Green Lentils in Farmers Hands

Red Lentil Imports in Turkey: Shifting Supplier Landscapes

Over the last decade, Turkey has consistently averaged a lentil production of 400,000 tons annually. Despite being the world’s fourth-largest lentil producer (after Canada, India, and Australia), Turkey remains a significant importer of red lentils. In the past year alone, Turkey imported 675,000 tonnes of red lentils. Surprisingly, during the 2022-23 season, Russia emerged as Turkey’s major lentil supplier, accounting for over 50% of total purchases, with Canada ranking only third, after Mexico.

The Challenge of Lentil Export Bans: Impact of Government Restrictions

Turkey also holds a prominent position as a lentil exporter and re-exporter globally. In the previous season, Turkey exported more than 450,000 tons of red lentils alone. Similar to the situation with chickpeas (Chickpeas Market Update 2023 available here), Turkey’s lentil export activity faced significant disruptions due to government-imposed export bans. Initially implemented in October 2021 to address domestic production shortages and stabilize prices, the ban extended through 2022.

This year, ban was extended from August 2023 and is valid until January 1st, 2024, however under different terms than those imposed on chickpeas export, you can read more on that topic here.

According to the Chairman of the Mediterranean Pulses Exporters Association:

Farmers and exporters calls to association to ask for removal of the obstacles to export (lentils). We have a crop above domestic consumption. Red lentils is the crop that we export the most. However the restriction decision will discourage farmers from planting red lentils on time and will negatively affect (the market).

Lentils Production in Turkey 2013-2023

YearPlanted Area (ha)Production (tons)Yield (tons/ha)
2013281 000417 0001,48
2014243 000345 0001,42
2015224 000360 0001,61
2016246 000365 0001,48
2017292 000430 0001,44
2018259 000353 0001,37
2019282 000354 0001,26
2020248 000371 0001,50
2021308 000263 0000,86
2022341 000445 0001,31
2023424 000

Lentils Market in Europe: 2023 Production and Import Insights

Challenges and Yield Reductions: French Lentil Market’s 2023

In 2023, the lentil crop in France faced significant challenges due to adverse weather conditions and insects causing damages. Prolonged droughts and delayed rainfall, coupled with damage from insects, led to a considerable decrease in yield. As a result, farmers across various regions harvested significantly lower volumes compared to the previous year. In some areas, the yield dropped heavily.

According to French ministry of agriculture 2021, France planted lentils on 34,900 hectares, harvesting 23,000 tons. In 2022, although the area reduced to 28,166 hectares, better yield led to 28,000 tons harvested. There are no official stats from 2023 harvest yet, but we can estimate that produced quantity is lower than in 2022 mainly due to poor yield. That also had reflection in prices. Lentils prices quickly increased on domestic market, that will allow importers to bring more lentils from abroad in 2023-24 season.

Interestingly, France primarily imports chickpeas from Canada, importing approximately 25,000 to 30,000 tons of lentils annually, which position France as a one of the leading European importer.

Spain’s Lentil Market: 2023 Disrupted Lentils Crop and Import Dependency

In 2023, Spain faced a huge decline in lentil production despite sowing similar areas as the previous year. While the sown area remained at 41 000 hectares, the production decreased to a mere 13 000 tons. A drop from the 27 000 tons harvested last year and 31 000 tons in 2021. Interestingly, lentils in Spain cover 45% of the total pulse land area.

This year’s harvest in Spain encountered severe challenges due to extensive droughts, particularly in key growing regions, resulting in significantly reduced rainfall. The country has witnessed a declining average yield over the past five years, predominantly influenced by adverse weather conditions, especially droughts. In 2023, Spain recorded its lowest-ever average yield for lentils, just 0.31 tons per hectare, in comparison to the European average yield of 1.13 tons per hectare.

Despite being a major producer, Spain stands as the primary importer of lentils in Europe. Typically importing between 50,000 to 60,000 tons annually, Spain heavily relies on imports, primarily from the US and Mexico. With the exceptionally low domestic production in the 2023 crop, the country will heavily depends on imports of lentils this season.

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Italy’s Lentil Market: Reliance on Imports and Limited Domestic Production

In Italy, domestic production of lentils remains relatively small. According to the Italian Statistical Office, in 2023, Italy sowed only 5 253 hectares, resulting in 4 516 tons which were harvested. Slight increase from 2022 when 4 925 hectares were sown and 4 215 tons were harvested.

This limited local production prompts Italy to heavily rely on lentils imports from other producing countries. Remarkably, over 90% of the lentils consumed in Italy originate from foreign sources, predominantly from North America, Mexico, and Turkey, serving as the primary trading partners. Italy also stands as the European leader in lentil imports, averaging imports of around 50 000 to 60 000 tons yearly.

3 Types of Lentils, Brown, Green, Red
3 Types of Lentils, Brown, Green, Red

Europe’s Lentil Market: Introducing Self-Sufficiency Goals

The European market annually imports an average of 200,000 to 250,000 tons of lentils, heavily relying on imports, primarily sourced from North America and Turkey.

However, the introduction of the new CAP by EU in 2023 has the potential to reduce import dependence. Despite a notable decrease in the area dedicated to lentils cultivation, the EU is indicating a shift in agricultural practices, driven by policies favoring protein crops and responding to an increasing demand in the plant-based market. The anticipated growth in the pulses market aligns with the EU’s focus on promoting pulses due to their diversity in use and minimal environmental impact.

The introduction of the new CAP in 2023 could potentially reduce import reliance. Despite a recent reduction in lentil cultivation area, expansions in soybean and other pulse cultivation signal a shift in agricultural practices, driven by policies favoring protein crops, changing crop rotations, and a growing demand for planet friendly crops.

While the EU is expected to remain a net importer of oilseeds and protein crops until 2032, a huge decline in net imports is anticipated, especially in pulses, with imports expected to decrease from current 1.3 million tonnes to 0.1 million tonnes in 2032. This shift is attributed to increased domestic production and reduced imports as the EU aims for greater self-sufficiency in pulses production.

Lentils Market Summary

In 2023, the lentil market faced challenges in Turkey and Europe. Turkey, a significant exporter, struggled with export bans. Severe weather, particularly droughts, caused a sharp decline in lentil production across European countries. This resulted in very low yields.

So far Europe relies on imports, importing 200,000 to 250,000 tons of lentils annually, mainly from North America and Turkey. However, new EU policies introduced in 2023 aims to reduce import dependence, signaling changes in farming methods. Despite smaller cultivation areas, the EU is keen on promoting pulses for their high protein content and environmental benefits. Forecasts suggest a drop in net imports, particularly in pulses, indicating the EU’s move towards more self-sufficiency in lentil production by 2032.

Source:

  1. https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QCL
  2. https://data.tuik.gov.tr/Bulten/Index?p=Bitkisel-Uretim-2.Tahmini-2023-49533
  3. http://www.turktarim.gov.tr/Haber/971/dunyanin-en-kaliteli-mercimegi-turkiyede-yetisiyor-
  4. https://arastirma.tarimorman.gov.tr/tepge/Belgeler/PDF%20Tar%C4%B1m%20%C3%9Cr%C3%BCnleri%20Piyasalar%C4%B1/2023-Temmuz%20Tar%C4%B1m%20%C3%9Cr%C3%BCnleri%20Raporu/MERC%C4%B0MEK%20T%C3%9CP%20HAZ%C4%B0RAN%202023-TEPGE.pdf
  5. https://www.tarimdunyasi.net/2023/07/27/nohut-ve-mercimek-ihracatinda-yeni-kosullar/#:~:text=Nohut%20ve%20mercimek%20ihracat%C4%B1nda%20kay%C4%B1t,kadar%20ihracat%20kay%C4%B1t%20izni%20verilecek.
  6. https://draaf.pays-de-la-loire.agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/cd2023-10_saa2022-provisoire-1.pdf
  7. https://www.mapa.gob.es/es/estadistica/temas/estadisticas-agrarias/cuaderno_septiembre2023_tcm30-666797.pdf
  8. http://dati.istat.it/Index.aspx?QueryId=33702
  9. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-9-2023-0281_EN.html

Author

Piotr Goral Post Picture

Piotr Góral

Co-Founder of Seedea

piotr@seedea.pl

+48 500 831 909

For many years, together with his small team, he has been boosting the sales of Polish family companies that supply food ingredients (mainly organic) to different foreign markets. His role involves creating new business projects and managing sales. He loves visiting suppliers and farmers during his travels, gathering valuable information that he shares through his articles.

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