Big agribusiness wants to make quinoa more mainstream

AMID GROWING appetite in the West for healthy food, the UN declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. Exports boomed out of Bolivia and Peru, the two largest producers. Prices tripled to $4,800 per tonne; organically grown stuff fetched $6,800. Poor Andean farmers who are the grain’s traditional custodians benefited. Protein-rich profits also lured Big Agribusiness. Intensive farms sprang up in South America’s fertile coastal plains. By 2015 supply topped 228,000 tonnes—and outstripped demand. Prices collapsed. Sales to America, the largest importer, have been flat. Traders’ margins have fallen by almost half, to 6% or so. Four out of Peru’s five leading exporters have gone bust.

This has led some to talk of “peak quinoa”. Not everyone, though. Distributors in America and Europe think the slowdown is temporary. To help this come true, they are promoting production at home.

To be more adventurous in their use of quinoa foodmakers need a more dependable supply, says Shrene White, general manager of Ardent Mills, America’s biggest flour-maker. Its adoption as an ingredient in higher-margin processed food has been hampered by volatile prices and inconsistent produce. A truckload imported by Andean Naturals, which is based in California and buys from thousands of Bolivian farms, can contain half a dozen different quinoa...

via Business Feeds

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