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U.S. Exports Up 9.5% in Fiscal 2001
January 04, 2002

By John Parker

Some buyers of U.S. dry beans were busy making purchases through September 2001, just before the big rise in prices for some classes came forth during October and November 2001. The average export price for U.S. dry beans during fiscal 2001 (October-September) actually fell by 1.8 percent to $523.22 per metric ton. A considerably higher average price for overall U.S. edible bean exports will come forth in 2002. Farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota should have fun examining the prices for dry beans now unfolding. Their increased production will be needed in 2002 to help consumers around the world obtain more edible beans.

U.S. dry bean exports increased 9.5 percent during fiscal 2001 top 362,677 metric tons, and the value reached $189.8 million. During some good years of the 1990s, U.S. dry bean exports had been over 500,000 tons. Reduced plantings in a number of states and the drought in Michigan contributed to a smaller U.S. crop. The December 2001 NASS report showed dry bean production for 2001 at 19.6 million hundredweight, down nearly 26 percent from last year.

From the 2001 crop of 889,050 metric tons, it is difficult to imagine that exports for the coming year could begin to match the fiscal 2001 quantity. If they did, that would mean that exports would account for about 40 percent of production, with the help of draining down stocks from previous years.

The way prices for black and navy pea beans have been soaring since early October 2001 indicates that stocks for those classes may be dropping to very low levels. Good stocks of Great Northern beans are still available.

However, some food aid arrangements to send Great Northern beans to markets like Albania and Georgia may get some action when traders see the way prices for other types of beans have climbed.

The growth for U.S. dry bean exports in 2001 was strong in three major markets -- Mexico, United Kingdom, and Algeria. Exports also were greater to various European markets, including France, Netherlands, Greece, and Germany. That may have been related to rising consumer interest in use of edible beans as a healthy food item. Good sales to Mexico contributed to recent gains for prices of pintos, and added to the astronomical hikes for black bean prices.

Mexico Bolsters Purchases -- U.S. exports of dry beans to Mexico increased 27.5 percent in fiscal 2001 to 96,574 tons, valued at $52.1 million. The shipments to Mexico were about 30,000 tons above the NAFTA quota amount. During fiscal 2001, demand for edible beans increased in Mexico with the help of increased purchasing power of consumers and improved marketing arrangements.

Exports to United Kingdom Rebound Sharply -- The dramatic rebound for U.S. dry bean exports to the United Kingdom in fiscal 2001 to 57,611 tons stemmed partly from the concern about upcoming price hikes for navy pea beans. The average price for U.S. dry beans to the United Kingdom dropped from $512.79 per metric ton in fiscal 2000 to $494.96 per ton in fiscal 2001. While navy beans dominate U.S. shipments to the UK, sales of a number of other types of beans are also made to this market.

Canadas dry bean production was down about a tenth in 2001, so the big boom in Canadian bean sales to UK importers had its peak last year. Because of the much smaller U.S. harvest of some of the types of beans preferred by British customers, a rebound for Canadas shipments is likely in 2001/02, as smaller U.S. supplies and higher prices cause UK importers to shop for the best price.

Algeria More Than Doubles Purchases -- Algerian leaders and policymakers have recently expressed their wish to make imports of essential foods easier and smoother. Adverse weather hurt yields for pulse crops in the last several years. Turkey has not had the abundance of pulses to send to Algeria it had in the 1990s. Canada has become a much larger supplier of Algerian pulse imports in the last three years. A large pent-up demand for imported dry beans has only been partly satisfied by imports in the recent year.

U.S. exports of dry beans to Algeria increased 123.7 percent in fiscal 2001 to 18,996 tons. The average price rose from $445 per ton in fiscal 2000 to $548 per ton in fiscal 2001. Algeria is an important market for Great Northern beans.

Italy Buys Fewer U.S. Beans -- Traders in Italy may have hoped that they could find less costly beans in China and Argentina. U.S. exports of dry beans to Italy dropped 11.4 percent to 14,997 tons in fiscal 2001, although the average export price fell 16 percent to $483 per ton. A larger share of the bean imported into Italy recently has been for human consumption. Earlier imports of broad beans from China declined sharply in the last two years from the peaks recorded in the mid-1990s.

Exports To France Up By 39.7 Percent -- France imports edible beans from a wide range of sources. Demand for edible beans is rising as more consumers are concerned about using healthy food. U.S. exports of dry beans to France increased from 9,881 tons in fiscal 2000 to 13,806 tons in fiscal 2001. The average price for U.S. dry beans to France rose 4.4 percent in fiscal 2001 to $564.25 per ton. Sales of U.S. Great Northern beans had done well recently in France.

Sales To Canada Down By A Fourth -- U.S. exports of dry beans to Canada declined 25.7 percent in 2001 to 17,740 tons. The average price for U.S. dry beans exported to Canada rose 3.8 percent in fiscal 2001 to $491 per ton. Canada may expand deliveries of beans at attractive prices to U.S. traders in 2002.

Japan Buying Fewer U.S. Beans -- U.S. exports of dry beans to Japan dropped by 26 percent in fiscal 2001 to 15,758 tons, as the average export price fell 5.4 percent to $634 tons. China accounts for over half of Japans dry bean imports. Smaller supplies of lima beans from California are likely to limit prospects for an early rebound for U.S. dry bean shipments to Japan.

Food Aid Sales To Haiti Down -- U.S. exports of dry beans to Haiti declined a ninth in fiscal 2001 to 20,847 tons, as the average price rose by 22.6 percent to $596.94 per ton. Food aid deliveries to Haiti may shift more to dry peas and lentils in the coming year as dry bean prices rise.

Dominican Republic Increased Purchases -- U.S. exports of dry beans to Dominican Republic increased 51.9 percent in fiscal 2001 to 10,896 tons, as the average price rose 4.8 percent to $522.49 per ton. Demand for imported dry beans in Dominican Republic is increasing, and various exporters in Latin America are likely to seek greater sales there in 2002.

Angola Needs More Imported Beans -- Despite large revenues from petroleum exports, Angola has not imported enough dry beans in recent years to meet consumer demand. U.S. dry bean exports to Angola fell by a fourth to 11,834 tons in fiscal 2001. Angola is a significant importer of pinto and cranberry beans.

Spain Increased Purchases Of U.S. Beans -- U.S. exports of dry beans to Spain rose 12 percent to 4,404 tons in fiscal 2001, as the average price rose by a fifth to $608 per ton. Portugal was a market for about half the quantity of U.S. beans as Spain purchased in fiscal 2001.

Greek Purchases Tripled -- U.S. exports of dry beans to Greece tripled in fiscal 2001, reaching 6,174 tons, as the average price rose 28.7 percent to $575.64 per ton. Greece has become an important supplier of beans for neighboring countries, both in bulk dry form, and canned.

Exports To Turkey Doubled -- The harvest of pulses was not enough in Turkey in 2001 to allow large exports as had occurred in some earlier years. Commercial sales of lentils and chickpeas to Iraq were once about 30,000 tons annually. This trade has either vanished, or shifted to small daily deliveries on trucks moving through Silopi Pass. Some of the 4,193 tons of U.S. dry beans exported to Turkey in 2001 may have moved through traders and food aid donors to Iraq. While U.S. shipments to Turkey in the recent year were double those of 2000, they were far below the amount actually needed for consumers in Turkey and Iraq. The lack of direct U.S. exports of Great Northern beans to Iraq since 1998 has left Iraqi consumers without the edible beans they need.

Shipments To Russia Down -- Demand for imported dry beans in Russia was partly affected in 2001 by the larger domestic crop of dry peas. U.S. exports of dry beans to Russia dropped from a peak of 8,161 tons in fiscal 2000 to 2,036 tons in fiscal 2001. Some food aid sales of beans, particularly dark red kidney beans, should mean a rebound for U.S. dry bean exports to Russia in fiscal 2002.

Strong Gains In Sales To South Korea -- U.S. dry bean exports to South Korea increased from 1,828 tons in fiscal 2000 to 3,086 tons in fiscal 2001. However, China provides about ten times more edible beans for South Korea than the United States.

Larger Exports Went To Some Markets In Latin America -- U.S. exports of dry beans to a number of markets in Latin America increased in 2001. Shipments to Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica increased in 2001. Exports to Venezuela doubled in fiscal 2001, reaching a value of over $3.5 million.

However, no shipments went to Peru, in contrast to the 63 tons shipped in fiscal 2000. Peru has greatly expanded dry bean production and exports in the last several years. Also, no U.S. beans went to Bolivia in fiscal 2001, which had been a customer for 150 tons in the previous year.

More Food Aid For Afghanistan Underway -- Food aid for Afghanistan is likely to include over 1 million tons of bulk items in the coming year. Wheat from Kazakhstan paid for by international donors will be a major item. Afghanistans consumers could use about 175,000 tons of pulses, including possibly 80,000 tons of dry beans. To lower transportation costs, pulses from neighboring countries may be purchased by major donor agencies first. Some arrangements to have replacements delivered to the ports of Pakistan and other countries may evolve. Canada and Australia are likely to provide a wide range of pulses for food aid to Afghanistan. Dry peas from Russia, Ukraine, and some other republics of Former Soviet Union are likely to be helpful.

 Parker is a former USDA dry bean market analyst.


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