Northarvest Requests Fair Market Access for U.S. Dry Beans

FARGO, N.D. – In March, the U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) sent letters to the honorable U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to encourage fair market access of U.S. Dry Beans to Europe and the United Kingdom.

The dry bean industry is asking for relief around the 25% retaliatory tariffs that have been placed on U.S. dry bean exports to the EU and the UK in response to Section 232 Steel and Aluminum tariffs that were applied by the U.S.
This tariff is a direct hit on the U.S. dry bean exports across the Atlantic, with tariffs potentially increasing as of June 1. The Northarvest Bean Growers Association’s concern is the rapidness of this deadline and the possibility of increasing tariffs locking the U.S. out of these two markets.
The EU and UK market was expected to grow 2-4% per year until 2023. This increase is driven by European consumer’s interest in plant-based proteins. The UK is the largest importer of canned beans at 23% share of the European market.
The Northarvest region, covering North Dakota and Minnesota, accounts for 65% of dry bean planted acreage in the United States in 2021. Europe is the largest market for canned beans in the world accounting for 50% of the worlds’ imports. It goes without saying that the impact these tariffs have on the U.S. dry bean economy are unwelcome.
In efforts to urge regional legislators to support the reversal or mitigation of these tariffs, Northarvest has reached out to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Sen. Tina Smith (MN), Sen. John Hoeven (ND), Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND), Rep. Kelly Armstrong (ND), Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN), Rep. Angie Craig (MN), Rep. Dean Phillips (MN), Rep. Betty McCollum (MN), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rep. Tom Emmer (MN), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (MN) and Rep. Pete Stauber (MN). 
Legislators are concerned for growers and committed to raising concern. Northarvest would like to thank Federal legislators from North Dakota and Minnesota for their strong support in overcoming trade politics.
“It’s important for growers to reach out and share their concerns regarding the tariffs,” said Kevin Regan, USDBC and Northarvest member. “Through collaborative efforts with legislators, I’m confident we can minimize the fallout over this detrimental block.”
With the encouraging positive advocacy from key legislators, Northarvest asks growers to contact your local representatives and voice support in addressing the EU and UK 25% retaliatory tariffs on exported dry beans.

Dry Bean Marketing Opportunities in Chile

The U.S. Dry Bean Council conducted a market scoping trip to Chile in December 2019 to study recent increases in dry bean imports and new opportunities for the U.S. Interviews with the Chilean dry bean industry as well as official production statistics confirm that domestic dry bean production is half of what it was a decade ago and will not recover since farmers shifted from dry beans to other crops that have higher profit margins, particularly fruits and vegetables.

While Chile used to be an important exporter in the region, it now exports fewer than 2,000 MT of domestic beans a year. Chilean importers are interested in establishing direct relationships with US suppliers and learning more about US dry beans – including quality, phytosanitary measures, varieties, and availability.

Domestic demand is around 30,000 MT with Chile producing about half that amount. The top suppliers are currently Argentina (due to proximity and familiarity) and Canada (largely due to relationships that started with the lentil trade). There is greatest potential for Pintos, Great Northern beans, followed by DRKBs (especially for canning or quality packaging), Black beans (depending on Argentina’s supply and price) and possibly small red beans.
In addition to a dozen packaged brands (both manufacturer brands and supermarket private label), prepared foods are an important market segment and there is growing demand for healthy, non-allergenic, organic and plant-based foods. Prepared beans in Tetrapaks and cans take up the same amount of space in supermarkets as packaged beans. We feel there is potential to establish new export streams of U.S. origin dry beans to Chile and will continue to work on this throughout 2020. Full scoping report is available on the USDBC members only webpage.

Bean vendor in the central market in Santiago

(Source: U.S. Dry Bean Council)

Chinese Dry Bean Production, Exports Continue to Decrease

According to the U.S. Dry Bean Council, the first planting and production report from China indicates dry edible bean planting areas in major Chinese production regions continues to decline. China’s total dry bean production is expected to be 166,000 metric tons, a decrease of 23 percent from 2018. Additionally, Chinese exports of dry beans have declined over the past five consecutive years (in value terms), while domestic consumption has kept growing. Exports in 2018 were down almost 25 percent from 2017 at 211,000 MT, and down 66.4 percent from 2013. Read more.

Agricultural Trade Promotion Funding Awarded for Dry Beans

USDA has awarded $100 million to 48 organizations through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program. The program aims to help U.S. farmers identify and access new export markets. The U.S. Dry Bean Council has received over $2 million in funding, with $1.4 million awarded in January and another $615,000 in July.
More details can be found here.