Poor harvests threaten to push up the price of vegetarian burgers


Peas, soya and chickpeas are the basic ingredients of many vegetarian alternatives to meat. But the global harvests of these raw materials are significantly disappointing this year. And that will be felt in the prices of veggie burgers and other similar products.


Drought in Canada, flooding in France

Especially for products made from yellow peas, the situation looks bleak. This is a vegetable that has gained considerable popularity in recent years as a more sustainable alternative to soya, which has a worse reputation because it is associated with the felling of rainforests and genetically modified varieties.


The problem is mainly in Canada, the world's largest producer of yellow peas. That country was hit this year by the worst drought in a century, leading to a total crop failure. In France, another major yellow pea country, the harvest was literally washed away by heavy rainfall.


Pressure on price negotiations with supermarkets

The result is obvious: prices exploded. In one year, the price of a ton of yellow peas went from 200 to 450 dollars, i.e. more than doubled. Add to this the sharp increase in transport costs - many processing plants are located in China - and it becomes immediately clear that large players such as Beyond Meat and Nestlé have landed in a mess.


At supermarket chain Delhaize, spokesperson Roel Dekelver reports that prices will not go up immediately, because contracts for a year are being drawn up with suppliers. But the market situation does put the ongoing price negotiations under high pressure. Dekelver acknowledges that the more expensive raw materials will possibly weigh on the agreed prices for next year, but even then it is not certain that customers will be confronted with higher prices.