Revised, January 2016
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, (Cicer arientinum) belong to the legume family, which includes a variety of beans, peanuts, soybeans and lentils. Although the common chickpea in the market is tan or beige, there are also yellow, red, dark green or brown varieties. The two main varieties of chickpeas are the large, light-seeded kabuli type, referred to as garbanzo beans, and the small, dark-seeded desi type.
Chickpeas are native to the Mediterranean region and are a major ingredient of many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian dishes, such as hummus, falafels and Indian curries. U.S. per capita consumption of chickpeas in 2014 was approximately 0.7 lbs., nearly doubling in five years.
Chickpeas offer specific benefits to a healthy diet. A one cup serving of chickpeas provides 29 percent of the daily value of protein and 49 percent of the daily value of fiber. They also contain vitamins and minerals and significantly boost your intake of manganese and folate.
Virtually all domestic pulse crop (grain legume) production is marketed through processors, with about 20 percent of production contracted and the majority (80 percent) sold on the cash market. Chickpeas take many forms as food items. In North America, most kabuli chickpeas are marketed as canned chickpeas for salads. They are also marketed as dry chickpeas and ground flour for baking purposes.
In 2014, approximately 280.8 million pounds of chickpeas were produced in the U.S. on approximately 2,151,000 acres, yielding an average of 1,324 pounds per acre. Total U.S. production of chickpeas was down 21 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. Chickpeas are grown primarily in Washington (42 percent of total production), Idaho (34 percent), Montana (15 percent), and California (4 percent). Other states with chickpea production include North Dakota, Oregon and South Dakota. Idaho is the leading producer of small desi chickpeas; Washington leads the nation in the production of large kabuli chickpeas. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) figures, India is the world’s largest producer of chickpeas, followed by Australia and Pakistan.
Chickpeas are stored at 10 - 12 percent seed moisture to prevent disease and insect problems.
In recent years, the pricing of chickpea has been calculated according to a three-tiered pricing schedule based on seed size. According to the USDA ERS, the season-average price for chickpeas was $38.81 per ton in 2014.
The economic viability of a specialty crop such as chickpea will ultimately depend on several factors such as market development, contract and seed pricing, and production capability.
Crop Production 2014 Summary USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook Data USDA Economic Research Service (March 2015)
Chickpea Production in the High Plains (South Dakota State University, University of Wyoming, and University of Nebraska)
Chickpea Production Guide Dryland (Oregon State University, 2004)