AUSTRALIAN lentil producers will have tariff-free access for their 2022-23 product into the substantial Indian market.
The Indian government announced over the weekend the current zero duty arrangement, which was due to expire on September 30, will be extended six months until March 31 next year.
Pulse Australia chief executive Nick Goddard said the extension was critical in an Australian context as it would allow the industry to export new crop.
"This will give a window for exporters to send 2022-23 lentils to India under a zero tariff arrangement," Mr Goddard said.
The decision to extend the moratorium on lentil tariffs was made as Indian officials continue to try and keep a lid on simmering food inflation.
Previously Australian lentils had been subject to tariffs and duties as high as 30pc, before they were dropped to 10pc last year then abolished for a six month period earlier in the year.
Mr Goddard said in spite of the news a repeat of last year's pricing of in excess of $1000 a tonne was unlikely, primarily due to improved season conditions in other key lentil exporting nations such as Canada.
"From all reports, Canada are having a much better season this year following a drought in 2021, they are the largest lentil exporter in the world so what happens there has a big bearing on world markets," he said.
In spite of the increased availability of lentils from North America there is still a promising pricing outlook.
Mr Goddard said prices were hovering around the $800-850/t mark at present, a historically high figure.
"There is still very solid demand for our product, not just from India but from other major lentil consuming nations."
He said now the short-term trade outlook to India looked settled in terms of tariffs and duties the industry was now hoping for an improvement in access to containers.
"The lentil trade to India has traditionally been focused very heavily on containers and the difficulties in this space internationally have made it hard for exporters," Mr Goddard said.
"There has been some work going on with bulk shipments but the Indian buyers have preferred containers in the past and the supply chain is probably better set up to receive the product in a box, although there are definitely Indian ports set up to receive lentils in bulk."
"It will be something the industry tries to work through to take advantage of any opportunities that present in India over coming months."