Northarvest Market Outlook
January 12, 2009
The October estimate of 2008 U.S. dry edible bean planted area was pegged at 1.5 million acresdown 2 percent from a year ago but 7 percent greater than the August 2008 projection. As a result, estimated dry bean production has increased 5 percent since the initial August crop forecast. Output for all dry bean classes is currently estimated at 25.4 million cwtup less than 1 percent from a year earlier.
National yield was estimated to be 17.72 cwt per acredown from the August forecast but up 3 percent from a year earlier. Output is expected to rise for
9 of the 14 major bean classes, with declining output possible for pinto, garbanzo, black, pink, baby lima, and blackeye beans. Estimated production by class will be released by USDA on December 11.
Prices for a few dry bean classes began to decline seasonally as harvest neared its conclusion in mid-October. Dry bean harvest generally ran later than normal due mostly to the weather-delayed start to the season and harvest-period rain showers.
With the upward revision in the October crop estimate, prices for some dry beans such as pintos and garbanzo beans began to weaken as the new harvest replenished elevators and warehouses. However, new crop market prices remain slow to develop for many classes on limited selling because of turbulent financial markets, Uncertainty in world commodity markets, and dry bean harvest running later than Normal this year. The 2008/09 dry bean sea season opened in September with a preliminary estimate of $39.10 per cwt for the industry aggregate grower price60 percent above a year earlier. Although the turbulence in financial markets led to confusion and uncertainty in most commodity markets over the past month, prices for everything from crude oil to pinto beans generally weakened from their highs of the past few months. However, through mid-October, dry bean quotes remained above both a year earlier and the average of the past few years.
Dry bean prices over the coming market year will continue to reflect the internal supply-and-demand situation for each bean class. However, these market fundamentals will play out alongside the largely uncertain trends established by general commodity markets.
Despite the recent drop in commodity prices, it seems likely that corn and soybean markets (which dry beans compete for acreage) will remain well above loan rates due simply to rising demand from biofuel producers.
In mid-October, the futures market was pegging field corn around $4.50/bushel (bu) next May and soybeans at $9.80/bu. At these levels, which would be similar to 2007/08 averages, aggregate dry bean prices would average around $30/cwt in 2008/09. However, if the cash corn price were $1/bu higher next year than futures markets currently suggest, the aggregate dry bean price would likely average closer to $35/cwt.
Exports Up Strongly in 2007/08
During the 2007/08 marketing year (September-August), the weaker U.S. dollar and continued strong food aid demand boosted U.S. dry bean export volume 20 percent above a year earlier to 8.19 million cwt. Volume was 29 percent above the average of the past 5 years and was the highest since 2000/01. The United States shipped dry beans to 122 nations in 2007/08, with more than two-thirds of those importing nations receiving a greater volume than the previous year. Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom remained the top 3 export destinations, accounting for 47 percent of dry bean volume in 2007/08. Exports to the United Kingdom (up 44 percent), Canada (43 percent), and Spain (23 percent) were higher, but shipments decreased to Saudi Arabia (down 77 percent) and Mexico (11 percent), among others.
Pinto beans remained the export volume leader with 2.2 million cwt, up 15 percent from a year earlier but down 14 percent from the strong 2005/06 total. Navy beans remained the second-leading dry bean export at 1.53 million cwt, up 26 percent from a year earlier. Black beans remained the third leading export class with 0.98 million cwtdown 17 percent from a year earlier but up 31 percent from 2 years ago. The greatest percentage export gains from a year earlier occurred in pink beans (up 278 percent) and Great Northern beans (up 109 percent) with the most notable declines occurring in exports of cranberry beans and small red beans (each down 27 percent). Great Northern beans were the fourth-largest export class in 2007/08, rising 109 percent to 0.77 million cwtrecovering a large portion of the previous seasons loss.
This was the second-largest export volume for this class in the past 6 years. Turkey, which did not import any U.S. Great Northern beans a year ago, accounted for 36 percent of the volume, followed by France with 14 percent of the total. The value of exports increased 91 percent to $21.2 million, with the export unit value declining 9 percent to 27.7 cents per pound. Dry bean imports into the United States rose 16 percent to a record 322 million pounds during the 2007/08 crop year.
Canada (up 42 percent from a year earlier), China (up 8 percent), and Mexico (up 23 percent) remained the top three foreign suppliers of dry beans over the past marketing year, together accounting for 75 percent of U.S. dry bean imports.
Imports of black beans declined 5 percent to 47.3 million pounds. Black beans were the leading import class in 2007/08, accounting for 15 percent of volume in 2007/08. Garbanzo bean imports rose 23 percent from the previous year and were the second leading import class with 11 percent of the volume. In the year ahead, import volume is expected to continue trending higher given attractive prices and reduced domestic output of black and garbanzo beans.