A Global Chickpea Shortage Is Threatening to Drive Up Hummus Prices

The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the issue, but American stockpiles were already down.

Between COVID, war, bird flu, climate change, and maybe plain bad luck, everyone's become accustomed to shortages: In 2022 alone, we've covered supply issues with coffee cups, fertilizer, sunflower oil, Subway meats, popcorn, and, yes, even Huy Fong Sriracha. So what's next on the chopping block? Apparently, chickpea stockpiles are down significantly enough that America may need to be concerned with an increase in the price of hummus.

Last week, Reuters reported that global chickpea supplies may drop as much as 20 percent this year, according to the Dubai-based Global Pulse Confederation. (That's "pulse" as in the legumes like chickpeas, not the thing you feel on your wrist.) The war in Ukraine is reportedly a major factor, in large part because Russia typically accounts for a quarter of the global trade.

"Russia is exporting around 200,000 to 250,000 tonnes, minimum, per year," Navneet Singh Chhabra, director of the chickpea trading firm Shree Sheela International, told Reuters. "When the war started in February, the supply was destroyed, totally." He added that Ukraine was also unable to plant its typical 50,000-ton chickpea crop.

Eddy Zecchinon / EyeEm / Getty Images

But the U.S. shares some of the blame, too. According to The Guardian, America is actually the world's fourth largest chickpea exporter but poor weather and a switch to more lucrative crops has hampered production over the past two years, resulting in five percent fewer acres being planted in 2022 and overall U.S. stockpiles dropping 10 percent.

Meanwhile, these problems have been further exacerbated by the pandemic-related shipping issues that have plagued industries of all kinds (including a billion pounds of almonds stuck in California). And as a result, the U.S. has seen increased chickpea prices: NielsenIQ data has reportedly found that grocery store prices for chickpeas are up 12 percent from 2021 and 17 percent higher than they were pre-pandemic, and hummus prices are also up nearly seven percent since 2019.

But the hummus brand Sabra is doing what they can "to safeguard against the unexpected," CEO Joey Bergstein told Reuters, adding that they were keeping plenty of chickpeas around to hopefully keep American hummus supplies flowing.

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