The consensus is that the chia market will continue to grow steadily through 2017 in terms of volume, with slightly more demand than supply. Prices, especially the European standard product, saw sharp increases in 2016, and we expect the price to climb slightly in 2017, although no one foresees any abrupt increases.
The peak for Chia in terms of pricing happened three years ago and we don’t expect this to happen again, since pricing dropped drastically soon after as more suppliers joined the market, actually leaving some farmers with unsold stock from the 2014 and 2105 harvests.
On the demand side, several factors are assisting in the sustained growth of the chia market. It continues to have large appeal for it health and nutritional values, and there is an increase of processed chia, such as oils and flours, that make it much more versatile in the manufacturing process. Chia is no longer only found as whole seeds in breads and snacks, but also in drinks and convenience foods and is used for its functional benefits as a gelling agent, or for emulsifying and thickening applications. We now see chia in more convenience foods as well.
Chia seed has become more main stream as larger multinationals use it in their products. Retail sales also continue at a health rate.
As regards to supply, in Argentina we have seen consolidation in the supply chain with many of the smaller producers and traders who took advantage of huge demand several years ago now finding it hard to compete. As quality expectations and requirements increased many lacked the infrastructure to process the product, deciding to move on to other crops instead. Of the over 100 players in the Argentine market in 2014, only a dozen or so of us remain, with a positive outlook on the future of Chia. This doesn’t mean a reduction of chia production in Argentina, but rather that the stronger players have got stronger and increased their own production.
The change in the Argentine government could also impact the crops farmers decide to grow as the many years of suppression towards farmers has now been reverted with much more support towards farmers, including the reduction or cancelation of export taxes on crops farmers are more familiar with, such as soya.
TradeLink International is one of the main suppliers of Chia in Argentina, a company run by New Zealanders who are based in Argentina. Our focus is on providing a reliable and enjoyable buying experience out of South America with a focus on quality. We supply conventional and organic chia as well as Argentine grown/European processed chia offering you the highest standards in chia processing backed with certifications such as BRC.