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China's bean exports to Brazil to soar

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Not all Brazil's agricultural trade with China is as an exporter.

Sure, Brazil is the top origin for Chinese imports of the likes of sugar (1.92m tonnes in the first 11 months of 2014) and soybeans (31.8m tonnes up to November, ahead of the 22.2m tonnes sourced from the US).

But for kidney beans, the cargos are moving in the opposite direction.

Brazil, for which, like many other Latin American countries, beans and rise is a staple, relies on China, besides Argentina and the US, to maintain its kidney bean supplies.

Beans vs corn

That looks like being especially true in 2014-15, after the drought better known for curtailing Brazil's coffee and sugar production hurt its kidney bean output too.

Conversely, China has had a bumper harvest, up 20% at 950,000 tonnes, after high prices, lifted by a poor 2013 crop, encouraged a rise in plantings, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Beijing said.

"Fluctuating corn prices also encouraged some Chinese farmers to choose planting pulses over corn," the bureau said, also noting benign weather which boosted kidney bean yields in north eastern China, a major producing area.

Exports surge, prices fall

The increased output in a pulse which is relatively unpopular in China itself, coupled with stronger Brazilian demand, looks like fuelling a jump to 500,000 tonnes in China's kidney bean exports in 2014-15.

That would represent a 60% recovery from last season's levels, which were depressed by weak production.

India, Italy and Venezuela are other major buyers of Chinese kidney beans.

The downside for Chinese growers is that they will receive less for their crop this year – with prices for some varieties halving.

"As of the end of November, the price for black beans was around 4,000-4,100 remninbi ($643-659) per tonne, compared to 5,000 remninbi per tonne during the same period in last year," the bureau said.

"The price for speckled kidney bean is currently around 4,300 remninbi per tonne, while reaching as high as 8,500 remninbi per tonne last year."


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