Agri Business

Virus scare spurs demand for pulses as consumers stay away from poultry

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on March 17, 2020

As meat eaters stay away from poultry products such as chicken and eggs due to the scare triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, the demand for pulses such as tur dal and gram is seen picking up in the country. Rich in protein and fibre, pulses have been a major source of vegetable protein for large sections of the population.

The trade believes that consumption of pulses could rise only if the spurt in demand, being witnessed currently, is sustained in the long run.

“We have noticed an uptick in demand for pulses in local APMC at Vashi over the last few days,” said Zhaverchand Bheda, Chaiman, Indian Pulses and Grains Association. This demand for pulses could be due to shift in diet pattern amidst the coronavirus scare, as consumers are seen shifting from non-vegetarian to vegetarian diets. “We need to see how long this demand will continue,” Bheda said.

Stable prices

Bimal Kothari of Pancham International said there was good demand for pulses at the moment. A long-term effect on consumption will be felt only if the switchover to pulses is sustained. The spurt in demand being witnessed currently is unlikely to have any impact on prices.

“Prices are stable. We have a large production and the government has also allocated enough quota for pulses imports. I think that will take care of prices. Moreover, all pulses are being sold below the minimum support price,” Kothari said.

Pulses output

India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses. The production of pulses for 2019-20 is estimated at 23.02 million tonnes as per the second advance estimates of the Agriculture Ministry. Last year, the pulses production in the country stood at 22.08 million tonnes.

Suresh Agarwal, President, All India Dal Mills Association said, “We expect the off-take of pulses to go up by at least 5 to 7 per cent.”

“If there is any demand for pulses from the overseas markets in the prevailing global scenario, the processsing industry is geared for exports,” he added.

Pulses exports

India’s exports of pulses during April-December of the current financial year fell 31 per cent to 1.635 lakh tonnes as against 2.36 lakh tonnes the previous year. In value terms, the exports were down by a fourth at $160 million for the period from $212 million in the same period previous year.

Santosh Langar, a dal miller in Kalaburgi, a major toor producing region, said there are expectations that consumption of pulses would go up as people, who are staying away from meat, would look at pulses to meet their protein requirement. “We expect demand for pulses to go up in a week or two,” Langar said.

Published on March 17, 2020

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