Gleanings from Recent U.S. Dry Bean Council Trade Missions
June 21, 2007
Angolan buyers express appreciation for U.S. quality -- U.S. pinto beans have been successfully gaining market share in Angola (west Africa) over the past two years as Chinese light speckled kidney beans became scarce and expensive. All trade sources concur that pinto beans are the preferred bean type in Angola because they cook more quickly than other beans. One Angolan bean buyer who usually buys half of his needs from China and half from North America says the market is very quality conscious, and that while price is important, quality is even more important. He likes working with Americans because of their rigorous respect for contract conditions.
Opportunities in South Africa -- About 80% of beans sold in the Republic of South Africa are dry and 20% canned. The red speckled sugar bean (a long, narrow cranberry bean) is the bean type preferred by South Africas black consumers and constitutes about 85% of South African bean consumption. Higher Chinese prices and limited supplies of preferred types from other sources means a good opportunity for building U.S. market share here. There is a 10% import duty on dry beans to South Africa. However, there is no duty on imported canned products.
Countering UK/Irish canner concerns about U.S. ethanol -- The purpose of a recent trade visit with leading UK and Irish canners of navy beans was to discuss the possible impact of U.S. corn-based ethanol on the 2007 U.S. dry bean crop, and beyond. The message of the trade team was that, while the growth of corn production for ethanol may affect some U.S. dry bean growing areas, the U.S. will continue to be a major supplier of navy beans, as well as dry beans of other classes. However, the global reality of the ethanol phenomenon, which stretches from North America through China, is that customers must expect and prepare themselves for higher dry bean prices. At the same time, the trade team wished to encourage UK buyers to open up their purchasing structures and increase their supplier base, so that U.S. farmers may feel more assured about planting navy beans.
Dutch, Belgium buyers want more direct contact -- Although small markets, Belgium and the Netherlands lie at the heart of Europe and are import-export centers. Importing companies and canners here are looking for high quality dry beans and reliability of supply. They are well aware that the increase in corn production for ethanol in North America may affect dry bean prices in markets around the world. Buyers are interested in establishing more direct contact with U.S. exporters; they want to be kept abreast of U.S. production numbers and market trends, and to be informed about product price and availability.