Record US Dry Bean Exports Continue in Central America

November 21, 2017

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) most bean prices throughout Central America and the Caribbean fell in September on news of good harvest prospects beginning this month. The region continues to be a standout for exports of U.S. dry beans.

U.S. dry bean exports to Costa Rica have shown explosive growth reaching 9,884 MT, a 1,465% increase over the same period last year. Black beans accounted for more than 90% of this increase. Costa Rican bean imports from China, traditionally the top supplier, fell off by about two-thirds this marketing year compared to last year and imports from Argentina are almost non-existent. The U.S. will likely see its share of the Costa Rica dry bean market increase over the short-term as tariffs are gradually reduced under DR-CAFTA; they are scheduled to be eliminated entirely by 2020.

Costa Rica Export

For marketing year 2016/17, U.S. dry bean exports to Panama hit a five-year high at 5,569 MT, a 59% increase over 2015/16. This increase can be attributed to a poor harvest in Panama’s Chiriqui Province, a major dry bean growing area. Light red kidney beans accounted for 41% of total 2016/17 dry bean shipments to Panama, followed by pink beans at 788 MT.

On a separate but related trend line, in marketing year 2016/17, U.S. dry bean exports to Chile totaled 1,898 MT, a 15% increase over 2015/16 and the third consecutive year that U.S. dry bean exports to Chile have seen an increase. The main classes of U.S. beans shipped to Chile in 2016/17 were: pinto beans (1,316 MT); black beans (362 MT); and great northern beans (200 MT). USDBC plans to conduct an internal assessment of this market to get a better sense of growth prospects, in 2018.

Posted in: Bean Bulletin