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USDAs Bean Outlook
November 01, 2001


As indicated by planted area estimates, U.S. dry edible bean production is expected to decline this year. USDA will release the first estimate of production by class on Dec. 11.

The percent reduction expected in 2001 output, and the two major bean classes produced in each of the top six states, are as follows:

  • North Dakota (16%), pinto and navy.
  • Michigan (25%), navy and black.
  • Nebraska (7%), Great Northern and pinto.
  • Colorado (5%), 85% of the crop is pinto.
  • Minnesota (31%), navy and kidney.
  • California (28%), lima and blackeye.
  • Export Volume Rises

    Despite continued strength of the U.S. dollar through the first half of 2001, the volume of dry bean exports rose 18% from a year ago. This was due to sharply higher movement of navy (up 66%), Great Northern (up 16%) and pinto (up 54%) beans.

    Among the major export markets, sales increased to the United Kingdom, France and Mexico but declined to Japan and Canada. The United Kingdom purchased a large share of its navy beans from Canada last year due to lower cost, but appears to have shifted back to U.S. beans this year.

    In 2000, the United States exported nearly 18% of its dry bean supplies (production, stocks and imports), down from 20% during the previous three years. The export share of supply is expected to exceed 20% during 2001.

    Prices Strengthen

    During the first seven months of 2001, grower prices for dry beans averaged 3% above a year ago, breaking a string of three consecutive first-half year declines. Dealer prices for most bean classes began rising late in the second quarter in anticipation of sharp reductions in production this season. For example, grower prices for North Dakota pinto beans averaged $12.31 per cwt during Jan-June  up 14% from the extreme lows of a year ago.

    Export interest from Mexico improved this spring, which is aiding prices by helping reduce stocks. Stocks of pintos and most other dry bean classes will not be rebuilt this fall as production declines. As a result, dry bean prices will likely remain well above year-earlier levels in 2002.

    The Producer Price Index for canned dry beans has been running about 1% above a year ago, with July prices slightly below Januarys. Retail prices for dry beans have drifted lower the past two years and remain low at this time (Aug. 1) On average, consumers paid 68.6 cents per pound for packaged dry beans in July 2001, down slightly from a year ago and 2% below two years ago.

    Source: USDA Economic Research Service


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