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Russia overtakes Canada as top peas exporter to China

An employee of a canning plant processes recently harvested peas in the village of Russkoye

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has become the top exporter of peas to China, accounting for almost half of the country's total imports and overtaking Canada in less than two years after gaining access to the $1 billion market, Russia's Union of Grain Exporters said on Tuesday.

The union's data shows Russia exported 1.13 million tons of peas to China in the 2023/24 agricultural season, gaining a 49.1% market share. Canada's share fell to 44.6%, from a dominant position of about 95% of China's pea imports in previous years.

The latest pea export data shows how quickly Russia is gaining a larger share of the agricultural products import market in China, especially amid simmering trade tensions between China and Western countries.

China is using peas to produce pea protein, which, like other plant-based proteins, is used as an ingredient in many dietary food products that are growing in popularity. The country exports most of its pea protein to markets worldwide.

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The United States Department of Commerce found China guilty of selling pea protein in the U.S. market at artificially low prices and, on June 27, announced antidumping duties on pea protein imported from China, ranging from 127% to 626%.

Russia's pea production has been booming and setting records each year since 2021, but the country lacks its own facilities to produce pea protein. China, a major producer of pea protein, granted Russia access to its market in October 2022.

Faced with Western sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine, Russia is seeking to diversify its trade and reorient trade flows towards countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Russia exported over 2 million tons of grain to China since the start of 2024, with barley exports rising five-fold to 371,500 tons, according to data from the Russian agricultural watchdog.

Russia is also eyeing a 10% share of China's pork imports within three to four years, according to the country's National Union of Pork Producers.

(Reporting by Gleb Bryanski; editing by David Evans)