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USDBC Completes COVID-19 Global Consumer Survey

The U.S. Dry Bean Council commissioned a study from Rose Research to better understand the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on consumer attitudes, perceptions and behavioral practices towards dry beans in some of our export markets. Specifically, the following areas of investigation were measured and included behavioral patterns from six months ago, currently and six months from now:
  • Purchase frequency
  • Outlets purchasing from
  • Amount spent in a typical month
  • Types of dry beans purchased
  • Purchase intent
The study also looked at whether changes made to shopping habits will continue in the future and the best way to promote dry beans now. A total of 3,771 interviews were completed online, from China, Europe/EU and Mexico.
 
The study concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-term impacts on consumer behavior around the world, as many of the consumers indicate that the changes that they’re making today will stay with them. According to the study, dry beans have a number of opportunities to position for success now and in the future. Consumers are more apt these days to be looking for products with a longer shelf life, while alternative sources of protein are also in demand – two key attributes that can potentially differentiate dry beans from other food products/ commodities. The full study with detailed questionnaire results and charts per region is available to USDBC members upon request.

Food Aid Outlook

The Coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on food assistance programs and on global child nutrition. U.S. dry beans are shipped to numerous countries around the world, as they are a staple of many diets and prized for their nutritious value. Nearly 1.5 billion children – more than half of the world’s student population – are being kept home from school due to pandemic response measures. Nationwide school closures are in place in more than 180 countries, while in many others there are localized closures which threaten to become countrywide.
 
In response, the U.S. Dry Bean Council is supporting the idea that school feeding programs need to maintain flexibility and responsiveness to changing conditions for supply and distribution of food and provision of nutrition services, while ensuring compliance with COVID-19 protocols. This may include delivery of meals or take home rations to children who are out of school so they have access to nutritious food. Read more.

USDBC Response to COVID-19

The U.S. Dry Bean Council is up and fully operational during this challenging time for the country and for the entire world. All global events are canceled through the end of May and possibly longer, as the USDBC reevaluates in accordance with global standards and recommendations.
 
U.S. and global staff are all working full time from home offices and keeping global programs running. Programming will be moving to digital platforms in the very near future to make up for the current inability to conduct site visits and in-person trade servicing.
 
As agriculture is considered a critical industry, farmers are working full steam ahead to prepare for dry bean planting and to allow the industry to continue to meet U.S. and global demand without interruption. The USDBC will be communicating more frequently through all social media and digital means.

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)

The Impact of Coronavirus on Dry Bean Programming

The primary concern with the outbreak of the coronavirus (CORVID-19) is the health and well being of U.S. Dry Bean Council staff and industry members. New travel and event restrictions are still being announced, with the greatest impact on China and other parts of Asia. Because China is such a large trading partner, the economic and health impacts of the virus are being felt around the world. Logistical slowdowns from some countries are reported on shipments of various goods into China and vice versa. No major developments have been identified on other shipments of food and agricultural commodities by USDBC representatives.
 
Food and Hotel Asia (Singapore), the largest international food show in Southeast Asia, originally scheduled for late March/early April has been postponed until July. However, Thaifex-ANUGA Asia 2020 in Bangkok remains on-track for May 28 – June 1. At ANUFOOD 2020, which is scheduled for March 9 – 11 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, large areas that are reserved for the Chinese delegation will be empty. No one is attending from China and the organizers are not allowing others to take that space. China is Brazil’s largest trading partner. Read more.

USDBC Officers Reelected

At the Dry Bean Congress in Cancun, Mexico, U.S. Dry Bean Council board officers were reelected. All current board officers were unanimously elected to a second term including:
  • Deon Maasjo of Oaks, North Dakota as president
  • Clint Stoutenburg of Sandusky, Michigan as vice president
  • Kevin Regan of Webster, North Dakota as secretary/treasurer. 

New USDBC Staff Join Global Programs

On January 1, Alexander Rowlatt and Russell Patten of Grayling took over the role of representing the U.S. Dry Bean Council in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Based in Brussels and London with offices throughout Europe and the world, Grayling is a Global Public Affairs firm with a unique depth of knowledge working in European and global markets on both policy and promotional issues.

Dry Bean Scene

Trade with the European Union remains a top priority for the dry bean industry. U.S. Dry Bean Council Executive Director Rebecca Bratter has more in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

USDBC Participates in Global Child Child Nutrition Forum

The U.S. Dry Bean Council participated in the Global Child Nutrition Forum annual conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The forum is the largest international conference on school meals in the world. It provides an opportunity for implementers to share experiences with school meal programs and learn what others are doing in their own countries. This year’s forum specifically focused on:
  • the main challenges countries face in implementing school feeding programs
  • the importance of setting standards and ensuring quality in school feeding programs
  • and exploring links between investing in school nutrition and the development of human capital.

Dry Bean Trade Team Headed to the UK

A team of three industry delegates will head to the United Kingdom representing the U.S. Dry Bean Council for a packed week of business meetings with buyers and industry representatives in Manchester and London. The mission will wrap up with a visit to the trade division of the European Parliament in Brussels, where delegates will get an update on the implications of the ongoing tariff dispute that places 25 percent retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dry bean imports to the EU. Learn more about the trade mission.