Whew, What an Interesting Year!
January 15, 2008
Whew, what an interesting year, with the bean world watching every move its growers made! Early in the year, there was considerable concern as to whether the bean industry would have enough supplies to meet demand.
As it played out, even though the Northarvest region maintained its dry bean acreage and had good yields this year, such was not the case in the rest of the nation or internationally. Michigan had an estimated 30% reduction in production and Canada, which exports about 75% of their production, reduced their acres by a third this year and some project will reduce acres quite significantly next year. These examples are among the more significant, but they are by no means unique.
Northarvest producers have the ability this year to sit back, relax, and see what potential there is in the market. Unlike in the past, if prices do not improve there are many attractive alternatives to dry beans. Producers are in a rare and enviable position with their ability to choose between profitable alternatives. Canners and packers do not have the same flexibility and must compete with profitable alternatives to dry beans.
Northarvest is continuing to support agronomic and breeding research along with the formation of an international panel of experts that will set the direction for research into the health benefits of beans. The direction they determine most valuable will then be leveraged to provide the most impact possible in demonstrating the many benefits of dry beans.
The Dominican Republic (DR) is a major importer of dry beans. A recent free trade agreement with the DR, which will incrementally take effect over the next few years, has opened an opportunity for expansion in that market. Northarvest is actively seeking to take advantage of that opportunity.
The Northarvest region is very important to the bean world and your board continues to: provide leadership in research, provide leadership in promotion, and act as an advocate for its growers.