Global black bean production keeping up with demand

Canadian growers are expected to harvest 31,270 tonnes of black beans this year and end the season with 2,420 tonnes of the crop for a seven percent stocks-to-use ratio. | File photo

World black bean production is expected to rise in 2021-22 but so will consumption, resulting in another year of tight supplies, according to an analyst.

Caleb Sundblad, dry bean markets manager with Cooperative Elevator Co. in the United States, is forecasting 1.4 million tonnes of production, a 15 percent increase over last year.

Global consumption of the crop will also be 1.4 million tonnes, a 10 percent increase, resulting in 239,420 tonnes of carryout.

North American production is expected to fall dramatically but it will rise in other regions of the world like South America, he told delegates attending the Global Pulse Confederation’s Pulses 2.1 virtual conference.

Production in the U.S. is forecast at 242,390 tonnes, a 23 percent drop, because growers in the northern Plains chose to plant corn and soybeans instead.

Demand is expected to retreat to 2019-20 levels after a stellar 2020-21 brought on by consumers stocking their cupboards during the COVID pandemic.

Sundblad noted that per capita consumption in the U.S. was 0.61 kilograms in 2020 compared to basically nothing in the 1980s.

That is due to the growing Hispanic population in that country, which accounted for 18.7 percent of the U.S. population in 2020. The U.S. will end the 2021-22 crop year with an estimated 13,890 tonnes of carryout, resulting in a tight five percent stocks-to-use ratio.

The situation will be similar in Canada but on a much smaller scale. Growers are expected to harvest 31,270 tonnes of the crop and end the season with 2,420 tonnes of black beans, for a seven percent stocks-to-use ratio.

Mexico’s production is forecast to increase slightly to 413,000 tonnes, up from 398,000 tonnes. Imports are projected to plummet to 53,000 tonnes, down from 120,000 tonnes this year.

However, Sundblad noted that it is once again dry in Mexico’s key production states so production could fall and imports may rise from the levels he is forecasting.

It is also dry in the key production regions of the U.S. and Canada, he said.

Brazil is the world’s largest producer and consumer of black beans. Production is forecast at 438,240 tonnes, a 35 percent increase over last year.

Consumption is forecast at 421,100 tonnes, which is about the same as 2020 but well below the previous year’s 547,000 tonnes. High prices are forcing consumers to switch to other commodities.

Eduardo Balestreri, a trader with Arbaza in Brazil, said the initial expectation was that 2020 consumption would be up 15 percent in Brazil due to the pandemic.

But it fell off dramatically in the second half of the year due to the high prices.

Argentina’s production is expected to rise to 201,600 tonnes, an 18 percent increase.

Nicolas Karnoubi, a trader with OLEGA in Argentina, said 30 percent of the country’s crop has been harvested and quality and size looks good so far.

Brazil traditionally consumes about 80 percent of Argentina’s exports but in 2020-21 it will be closer to 60 percent because Argentina is picking up new markets like Cuba that used to be supplied by China.

Panelists said China has exited the black bean market and that has opened up new opportunities for Argentina and the U.S.

The U.S. is capturing markets like Costa Rica, Venezuela, Guatemala, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The U.S. faces no import duties in markets like Costa Rica and Guatemala due to free trade agreements with those countries, while other exporters are hit with 20 to 30 percent tariffs, said Alejandro Leloir with the U.S. Dry Bean Council.

“Being price sensitive markets, that’s a big deal,” he said.

Sundblad is estimating 216,631 tonnes of black bean production in Guatemala in 2020-2021, an 18 percent decline from the previous year. Imports will increase 25 percent to 15,496 tonnes.

The next crop in Guatemala will be planted in August. There are no predictions for that crop yet.

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