Buckwheat is globally spotlighted as a source of nutrients and organic food. Yet regardless of the increase in demand, the price has remained relatively unchanged. The gradually but continuously growing global supply has been preventing meaningful change. Buckwheat market is expected to show stable annual growth in the near future, with relatively low volatility.
Buckwheat is a type of pseudocereal most commonly produced in Asia and Europe. Buckwheat mainly takes a form of porridge, crepe or pancakes in Eastern European cuisine and noodle in East Asian cuisine. High in minerals and vitamins, it holds an advantage in nutrition over many grains. Minor end uses of buckwheat other than human food include products for animal feed and cosmetics industry.
Buckwheat flour is the main ingredient of traditional Japanese noodle called soba
The short establishment period of buckwheat makes it a great choice for a cover crop. Within the few days just before the crop goes to seed, buckwheat enriches the soil, attracts beneficial insects and controls weeds. For the purpose of cover crop, buckwheat is generally used in summer after crops are harvested in spring.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global buckwheat production reached 2.4 million tonnes in 2016, showing a nearly 20% increase from 2.0 million tonnes in 2015.
Major producing countries of buckwheat (source: Tridge)
Russia is the major producer of buckwheat worldwide, with 1.2 million tonnes, 49.8% of the global production, produced in 2016. The buckwheat production for 2017/18 is projected to further expand, following the 60.4% increase in export over January-August of 2017. Other notable producers include China that shares 17.0% of the market, followed by Ukraine, France, and Poland with 7.4%, 5.1%, 5.0% respectively.
Japan stands 1st worldwide in buckwheat import. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Japan imported 52,000 tonnes of buckwheat in 2017, in addition to the domestically produced 34,400 tonnes. The figures each increased by 19% and 10% from the previous year. Soba, one of the most popular dishes in Japan made of purely of buckwheat, accounts for the traditionally high amount of Japan’s buckwheat import. The solid popularity of soba continues to sustain buckwheat demand in Japan.
Major importers of buckwheat include Japan, Spain, Italy, and France (source: Tridge)
In Ukraine, the first half of 2017/18 season marked 10,500 tonnes of buckwheat import, easily surpassing the 7,800 tonnes imported over 2016/17. Although the domestic production is restoring, Ukraine continues to import cheaper buckwheats, mostly from Russia. While the domestic product price temporarily crashed due to excess supply from Russia, it is forecasted to recover as the supply seems to decrease. During the first half of 2018, buckwheat seeding happened only in 95,000 hectares, lower than 63% of the originally planned area.
Interestingly, the demand for buckwheat in Korea surged after the inter-Korean summit that took place last April. Cold noodles brought by the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from Pyongyang sparked the ongoing frenzy over cold noodle in Korea, and hence the buckwheat which is the main ingredient of the noodle. This year the Korean buckwheat import already surpassed 1,600 tonnes by May, 80% of the amount imported in 2017. Yet the price remained stagnant, due to formal purchase conducted by Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation beforehand.
There is no remarkable worldwide trend that will immediately affect the global trade of buckwheat. Though buckwheat is part of the consumers’ rising demand for healthier products, the global market can provide many alternatives in case the buckwheat price largely fluctuates. That the population decline is occurring fastest in Eastern Europe and Japan may negatively influence the global buckwheat consumption and production.
Editor: Wonjung Yun / firstname.lastname@example.org
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