(JTA) — When India has a drought, hummus prices in Britain suffer.
Insufficient rains in India have led to several years of a reduced chickpea harvest, The New York Times reported Thursday. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus.
India, the world’s largest chickpea producer, uses most of its yield for domestic consumption, but because of the poor harvests it has had to buy its chickpeas from growers in other countries, making them scarcer and driving up the price of the modest legume.
Average prices for hummus at British supermarkets have risen 12 percent over the previous year, The Times reported, citing the trade magazine The Grocer, despite general grocery price inflation of 3.6 percent. That’s in part because of the limited supply of chickpeas, but also because of the rising demand for hummus in Britain, according to the report.
Hummus reportedly has become a staple in Britain since being introduced in supermarkets in the 1990s, according to The Times, and was voted one of the products most likely to be found in Britons’ fridges in a 2013 survey of European food habits. Britons annually eat more than 100 million pounds of the spread annually at a cost of about $140 million, according to the report, citing the research firm Kantar Worldpanel.
But Britain, and other countries around the world where the demand for hummus has increased exponentially, can relax a little. Farmers in the United States are “drastically” raising their chickpea harvests in response to rising interest in chickpea production, according to The Times. And scientists from Scotland and Ethiopia are jointly exploring the development of drought-resistant chickpeas, the report said.
Demand for hummus, and therefore chickpeas, is expected to increase as healthier eating stays in vogue.