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Northarvest Market Outlook
August 29, 2007

Market fundamentals remain supportive for dry bean prices, with a decrease in planted acreage in the U.S. and Canada, and a new crop that will be affected by weather damage in some areas.

dry bean growers planted 1.5 million acres this year, down 8% from both last year and two years ago.  USDAs June planted acreage estimate was down less than 1% from growers plans in March.


Planted acres were unchanged in
North Dakota and Minnesota from last year, but decreased in other major producing states:  Michigans planted area was down 11% from last year; Idaho was down 14%, and in Nebraska, dry bean plantings were 29% below 2006. Fourteen of the 18 dry bean producing states have decreased planted acreage from a year ago.  In Canada, seeded area to dry beans declined by 15%, according to Agriculture Canada estimates.

USDA estimated acres to be harvested at 1.42 million, down 7% from both last year and 2005.  USDA in June estimated
North Dakotas dry bean harvest area would decline slightly, from 640,000 acres in 2006 to 630,000 this year, and that Minnesotas harvest area would be unchanged from last year, at 135,000 acres.  USDA may need to adjust its harvest area estimates, however, due to dry conditions and heat damage in some growing areas.

Canada, both production and supply are forecast to decrease in 2007-08 because of the lower seeded area and lower yields. Production is expected to fall for all major classes of dry beans in Canada: white pea, pinto, black, dark and light red kidney, cranberry, Great Northern, pink and small red. Exports are also forecast to decrease due to the lower supply. Carry-out stocks are expected to fall, with a stocks-to-use of 9%, and average price, over all types and grades, is forecast to increase in Canada because of the lower U.S. and Canadian supply.  See more Canadian market analysis online at

Certainly, the lower planted and harvested acreage estimate will be supportive to dry bean prices in the
U.S. as well, where competition for acres is expected to be just as aggressive among crops in 2008 as it was in 2007.  Some predict 2008 will be even more competitive, as soybean carryout will have declined, and the soybean market will need to bid acres back from corn.  Meanwhile, other crop markets  dry beans among them  will also need to be competitive to prevent further slips in acreage.

Exports Down, Imports Surge

During the first 8 months of 2006/07, U.S. export volume for dry edible beans was down 11%, and with prices up and stocks dwindling for several classes, export volume is likely to shrink further from the strong levels experienced a season ago, according to USDA.

 Movement to foreign nations increased notably for black, light red kidney, baby
lima, and navy beans, but declined for most others including pinto, Great Northern, and dark red kidney beans.  Through April, export movement of U.S. black beans was up 32%  the largest since the 1981/82 season, with Mexico accounting for about 92% of the volume.

Through April,
Mexico accounted for 30% of total U.S. dry bean export volume, up slightly from 28% a year earlier. Although down 7 percent from a year earlier, volume shipped to Mexico was the sixth strongest since 1989, with black beans accounting for 47% of the shipments thus far this year.

Whenever domestic prices of dry beans increase and stocks begin to dwindle, imports begin to move higher. This year has been no exception, as higher prices have led to a 26% increase in dry bean import volume over the first 8 months of the 2006/07 marketing year, according to USDA. Only the 2001/02 season featured September-April import volume larger than this season. Imports are up for several classes including black beans (up 82%), garbanzo beans (32%), and light red kidney beans (29%).

Interestingly, about 17% of dry bean imports so far this year consisted of black beans despite strong domestic production a year ago and heavy export volume this season.
Canada (28% of the total), China (23%), Mexico (16%), and Peru (16%) have accounted for the lions share of dry beans shipped into the U.S. market. 

Low-cost black bean imports from China had an average import value of about 23 cents per pound compared with 26 cents for black beans imported from Canada. In general, the U.S. average import value for black beans (26 cents/lb) did not differ much from U.S. exports of black beans, which had an average export value of 27 cents per pound.

Domestic supplies of dry beans are expected to remain limited, and prices above long-run averages in the coming marketing year. Thus, imports will continue to snag an increasing share of
U.S. dry bean markets. In 2006, imports accounted for 12% of dry bean net domestic use  up from 6% in 2000 and 4% during the 1990s. Import penetration is projected to reach 13% in 2007.

Dry bean market data courtesy Gary Lucier, USDA ERS economist.  See more U.S. dry bean market information in the USDA ERS Dry Bean Briefing Room online: - the next market outlook for dry beans will be issued August 29, then October 25.


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
Ph: 218-334-6351 | Fax: 218-334-6360 | Email: