Hummus has long since transcended its roots as a staple product in the Middle East to become a familiar delicacy around the world. Now the Russian invasion of Ukraine could be in short supply for the creamy dish made with chickpeas.
Russia and Ukraine are the world’s top exporters of chickpeas – Russia alone accounts for nearly a quarter of the global chickpea trade – and the supply of legumes could fall by as much as 20 percent this year, according to an estimate from the European Union. World Pulse Consortium.
The fighting in Ukraine as well as economic sanctions against Russia are the biggest impediments to the flow of chickpeas, according to the industry group, which represents growers and traders of pulses, dried legume seeds including peas, beans and lentils. Higher freight rates, which were partly driven by higher oil costs, are another problem.
“Globally, chickpea prices could rise by 15 to 20 percent — the same value as the supply drop,” said Navneet Singh Chhabra, an analyst at Trade Union and director of Shree Sheela International, a global chickpea trader.
Russia is one of the world’s largest chickpea suppliers, producing about 250 thousand tons of chickpeas annually. Mr. Shubra said economic sanctions are limiting the ways in which its farmers can get chickpeas out of the country.
The problem in Ukraine is different: much of its crop is usually grown in the Kharkiv province, where farming has hampered farming. Mr. Chhabra estimates that Ukraine typically produces between 30,000 and 50,000 tons of chickpeas annually, but will produce a maximum of 5,000 tons this year.
Mr. Shubra said Russia is an important supplier of a smaller variety, called Kabuli chickpeas, which are particularly preferred for chickpeas.
He said that the largest markets for Russian exports are Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan and India, and demand from these markets will have repercussions around the world.
The South Asian market will buy whichever hummus is cheaper, but in the Middle East and the United States, there is a strong preference for smaller, softer Kabuli chickpeas, as this is what makes the best wrinkle-free chickpeas. Shubra said. “Russia exports the best and largest quantity of chickpeas in Kabul to the world.”