Many Canadian canola growers are well aware of the transformation that can take place within a market when a food giant such as PepsiCo shows up with an order to buy. In the case of canola, FritoLay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, became one of many companies to switch their food manufacturing processes to utilize Nexera canola oil, a high-stability "designer"-type oil known for its superior health characteristics and usability in the processing industry. The prairie industry has been busy meeting this challenge ever since.
A recent article in Businessweek magazine, titled "PepsiCo, Others Bet Hummus Can Be the Next Salsa," outlines the company's desire to expand the acceptance of hummus across the United States. For background, hummus is simply chickpeas ground into a paste, with added flavoring from tahini paste, vegetable oil, lemon juice and garlic. Always partial to supporting prairie agriculture, I myself am a hummus lover. I make my own and can't get enough of it! The product originates in the Middle East, where it is consumed as a side-dish.
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Research has shown that only 18% of U.S. households have purchased the product, while most people have yet to hear of it. The competition is salsa, where annual sales are reported at $1.1 billion, while hummus sales are approximately 50% of that amount, although the spread category is growing at an annual pace of 14%.
The long-range plans include building acceptance as a dip, then as a spread and finally as a side-dish. PepsiCo, through a joint-venture named Sambra, will team with the NFL as an official sponsor where we will see ads promoting the product which complements the various snack foods and beverages needed for the Sunday football game.
A home-grown solution may be music to the ears of prairie chickpea producers who have expanded acres in each of the past two years while export markets have failed to grow fast enough to prevent the build-up of stocks. As seen on the attached chart, the stocks-to-use ratio is forecast to grow to 54% in 2013/14, while prices will remain under pressure and below those seen in recent years.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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