Bean Supplies Fall 500,000 MT Below Average
November 01, 2001
By Brian Clancey, STAT Publishing
Supply availability of all classes of dry edible beans, with the exception of garbanzo beans, is down in the United States this year, judging from the latest state level crop production estimates from the USDA.
The year started with an estimated carry in of 306,164 metric tons (MT) of dry edible beans. Though down from last years opening supply of 455,056 MT, this is not an unusual quantity of beans to carry over from one marketing campaign into the next.
By contrast, the United States is looking at an unusually small harvest as the industry reels under the dual impact of lower yields and steep reductions in seeded area. The net result is the available supply of all classes of beans is down from last season.
Supplies of all classes of dry edible beans totals just 1.186 million MT this year, well below the 1.654 million MT on hand last season and the recent five-year average available supply of 1.65 million MT of dry edible beans.
Such reductions will have a clear impact not only on the ability of processors in the United States to supply their North American domestic customers, but to sustain exports. However, the key question facing markets is whether there is enough liquidity for prices to be as profoundly affected by a 28% reduction in supply as would be expected to ration merchandise across available demand.
Market reaction to the supply problems facing the United States has seemed muted. It has been obvious since the beginning of the year that the United States would face a supply problem in the coming season. Initially, markets could not look past a relatively large available supply during most of the 2000-01 season due to the fact a steep reduction in seeded area would lead to tighter stocks during the 2001-02 season.
Prices have risen 28% above last seasons average. The spot market index for dry edible beans stood at 723 points prior to the release of Octobers USDA crop report, almost exactly 28% above last seasons average of 566. For the 2001-02 season average price to fully reflect the change in supply availability, however, values need to rise beyond their current levels.
Some processors are looking for U.S. $50 per 100 pound (cwt) black bean markets to develop in the coming months and for cranberry and dark red kidney beans to take a shot at testing their historic highs. That may be difficult to achieve. Historic highs for generic No. 1 grade beans range from a peak of $65 cwt for dark red kidney beans, $60 for black and light red kidney beans, and $52.50 for cranberry beans to a low of $45 for Great Northern beans and $38 for navy beans.
Some market participants dismiss such thoughts as wishful thinking, asserting the United States could not find many export buyers for beans at those prices levels. The problem with this line of thinking is processors in the United States have no choice but to limit sales to domestic packagers and canners in order to cover outstanding commitments to the USDA and commercial exporters.
Domestic usage for the 2001-02 season was initially forecast at 945,080 MT, based on per capita consumption data developed by the USDAs Economic Research Service. It would not be surprising to see season ending stocks drop to an unimaginably low 60,000 MT by next summer. Satisfying both sources of demand leaves just 181,393 MT of beans available to cover exports, seed, waste and feed. In recent years, exports from the United States ranged from a low of 308,970 MT across the 1999-00 season to 418,650 MT during 1997-98.
Clearly, markets need to arbitrage demand among domestic and export customers and price is always the method of choice.
Clancey is president of STAT Publishing, a speciality crop market service. You can subscribe to STAT by calling 604-535-8505. The email address is email@example.com. The mailing address is STAT Publishing, PMB 803, 250 H St., Blaine, WA 98230. You can read about dry bean markets on STATs web site, www.statpub.com.
Charts: U.S. Dry Edible Bean Estimates by Variety
U.S. Dry Edible Bean Estimates by State