EDITO: The shortage of chickpeas is a sign of the times

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Economic turbulence will get worse before it gets better. Warnings of a global chickpea shortage are just another reminder of the worrying trend of product shortages and soaring costs.

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A number of international reports are now sounding the alarm over an impending shortage that will see the global supply of chickpeas fall by 20%.

Many culprits are believed to be behind this production fluctuation. Droughts and extreme weather conditions have damaged crops. Supply chain issues cause distribution issues. And Russia’s war on Ukraine has disrupted global food supply patterns.

A one-fifth revision in the production of a tiny food item doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. But it can be.

Chickpeas are a staple in the diets of many cultures and for vegetarians. It is the key ingredient in hummus. This will cause ripple effects for other products, as well as minor ripple effects throughout the economy.

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As with all products, if there is a noticeable drop in supply, prices will rise. This is the last thing consumers need given the spike in other food prices in recent months.

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Although Canada produces chickpeas, it does not look like we will be well positioned to fill the global shortage. We will face our own challenges.

Statistics Canada forecasts predict that the amount of chickpeas produced in Canada next season will be half what it has been in recent years, rising from about 220 kilotonnes to 110 kilotonnes.

When a problem has global origins, it can be difficult to ask what we as Canadians can do about it. But one thing that must be essential is that governments realize that this is another, however small, hardship imposed on consumers.

Low-income people will be disproportionately affected. So don’t make it worse.

Liberal government policies like the first carbon tax, the second carbon tax (Clean Fuel Standard) and potentially destructive fertilizer regulations will make life harder.

It is time to move away from such policies.

About Julius Southworth

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