U.S. peanut exports (August – July) reached a record 700,000 tons (inshell basis) in 2015/16, 43 percent above last year. Shipments to China and Vietnam climbed to new heights, accounting for most of the export gains. Total shipments to other markets declined 4 percent for the year, primarily in response to strong competition from Argentina which impacted U.S. sales to the EU.
Sales to China totaled 197,000 tons, an eight-fold increase over the previous year. A majority of these were lower-valued raw peanuts shipped in shell and destined for crush. However, exports of higher quality peanuts for the food market were also significantly higher.
Peanut exports to Vietnam reached 81,000 tons, a three-fold increase over 2014/15. Unlike China, a majority of the peanuts exported were shipped as raw shelled peanuts.
Despite the large increase in export volume, the total value of peanut exports rose by a more modest 26 percent to $656 million. Reduced sales of higher valued peanuts to the EU, coupled with the tremendous growth in lower-priced peanuts for crush led to an 11 percent decline in the average unit value.
The strong export performance seen this year is forecast to continue into the 2016/17 marketing year. China is expected to pursue additional imports of low valued peanuts in the coming year, both in the U.S. and other markets such as Senegal and India. Exports for higher valued food peanuts are expected to be brisk as demand remains strong.
Currently, prices for higher quality peanuts remain elevated as the market faces a somewhat tighter supply situation following a 20 percent reduction in this year’s peanut harvest in Argentina. However, global stocks remain adequate to meet demand and keep price premiums in check.
Average export unit values in the coming year are expected to reflect those seen in 2015/16 as the export of crush quality peanuts continues to represent a significant portion of export sales. However, stronger prices this year for food peanuts, and possibilities for increased sales in light of the reduced harvest in Argentina could lend some support.