Canadian pulses—peas, lentils, beans, and chick peas—are reaping the rewards of a solid international reputation. Canada is a world leader in pulse production and in sales—Number 1 when it comes to lentils and peas. In fact, by 2016, Canadian lentils accounted for 76% of global lentil production. Pulses are a member of the legume family. They are high in protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates and low in fat and sodium. They are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Affordable and healthy, Canadian pulses have been a traditional staple of many diets around the world and are now gaining ground as ingredients in a variety of food products.
Over 2 million hectares in Canada are deployed to pulse cultivation—a considerable proportion given the Canadian climate. Canada’s clean, natural landscape and crisp, cold climate are ideal for producing top quality pulses at low cost. Pulses take less energy to grow, produce fewer greenhouse gases and the change of seasons gives them natural protection against insects and disease. As a protein source, pulses have one of the lowest overall impacts on the environment. Pulse crops add much-needed diversity to crop rotations and help protect and improve soil and water resources. Seeded area in Canada has exploded since 1985, with annual production surpassing 5 million tonnes. In 2017, Saskatchewan alone produced 2.6 million tonnes of lentils. International demand is the main driver for this growth.
Canada’s pulse industry cares about product quality and customer service. Producers are fully committed to meeting high international standards. In fact, Canada is leading efforts to establish protocols, terminology and evaluation methods for the worldwide pulse industry, in order to best meet customers’ needs.
Within Canada, the Canadian Grain Commission, a government body, sets grading standards for pulse crops. The Commission may establish grades with its specifications and set out methods to determine the characteristics of the grain in order to meet buyers’ quality requirements. Canada is also pursuing policies that will allow pulse producers to better meet their business demands while remaining market-oriented and globally competitive. These policies capitalize on Canada’s strengths in integrating food safety, innovation and environmental responsibility.
From the farm to the fork, Canada’s pulse industry is innovative and forward-thinking. Ongoing research and careful crop management have garnered international praise for the industry’s scientific expertise. Canada continues to lead the way in meeting consumer needs and tastes worldwide with its willingness and ability to develop and produce new varieties of beans, peas, lentils and chick peas.