May 09, 2012
According to US Dry Bean Council representatives in Japan, exports of US dry beans to Japan in 2011 were at their second-highest level in the past five years, reaching 15,210 metric tons, compared to 14,066 MT five years earliers. The US Dry Bean Council's strategy of promoting a broader range of dry bean varieties for non-traditional uses in Japan is paying dividends. Japan has historically used dry beans almost exclusively for producing a bean paste consumed in Japanese confections, and the largest share of US dry bean exports has consisted of baby lima beans, which have a significant demand for use in bean paste. Over the past five years, the USDBC has broadened its marketing strategy to include promotion of varieties of US dry beans previously little known in Japan for use in new Western style applications such as soups and salads. As a result, several varieties of US dry beans have experienced sharp increases in export volume to Japan, including red kidney beans, which grew from 66 MT in 2007 to 1,149 MT in 2011; garbanzos, which increased from 197 MT in 2007 to 1,126 MT in 2011; and white beans, which increased from 60 MT in 2007 to 564 MT in 2011. The export value of these three varieties increased from a combined $225,000 in 2007 to $1.631,000 in 2011. The USBDC plans to continue its strategy of promoting new varieties of US dry beans for non-traditional uses in Japan as a way to expand the market in the future.