Many Tobacco Farmers Are Turning to Chickpeas

Due to the increased consumption of hummus, a rise in the demand for chickpeas is affecting Southern agriculture.

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Sabra Dipping Co., the nation’s largest maker of hummus, is currently in efforts to increase chickpea production in Virginia, largely considered “tobacco country,” in order fortify its supply of the versatile legume. Currently, the company is dependent on purveyors heavily concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, rendering the crop vulnerable to shortages and weather issues. According to The Wall Street Journal, Virginia officials have been seeking new cash crops due to declining cigarette sales in recent decades and the subsequent decrease in tobacco farming. The hummus industry, however, has seen dramatic growth in America in recent years—last year, Sabra’s hummus sales increased about 18 percent, and the domestic harvest of chickpeas increased 51 percent from the previous year.