For U.S., it’s a hard choice between peanuts and peanut butter

An American favourite has taken over the global palate – including that of Indians — and now accounts for nearly 20 percent of total export disappearance of U.S. peanuts.

The peanut butter is a small, but important conduit, by which U.S. peanuts enter the global market, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a report, adding that an assumed conversion rate of two kilogram of peanuts/kilogram of peanut butter meant U.S. peanuts exported as peanut butter, either from the United States or indirectly through Canada, totalled approximately 105,000 tons in 2015.

“Over time, it’s likely that peanut butter exports will grow in importance as part of the overall disappearance of U.S. peanuts in the international market,” the USDA fretted.

The United States has always been a major player in global peanut butter trade and continues to be the world’s largest exporter. China is the chief competitor. Together, the two countries account for nearly 80 percent of peanut butter trade, the report said.

It said over the past six years, the U.S. share of global trade (U.S. plus net Canada exports) has risen from 45 to 55 percent in a market that has grown more than 60 percent over the same period. “This translates into an increase of approximately 50,000 tons, a doubling of peanut butter exports produced from U.S. peanuts since 2009.”

According to the USDA, this acceleration in peanut butter exports is a relatively recent event and reflects the changing dynamics in the global market. “In the years between 1995 and 2003, there was little growth in U.S. peanut butter exports. Most of the growth in global peanut butter consumption was supplied by China, with its exports approaching the level of the United States by 2003. Both U.S. and China’s peanut butter exports continued to grow steadily for the next five years, as global consumption continued to expand,” the report said.

It said that China’s export growth slowed by the beginning of this decade due to a growing domestic demand for peanuts and peanut oil and allowed U.S. producers to expand their market share in a larger global peanut butter market.

“In fact, the entire growth in global peanut butter demand since 2010 has been supplied by U.S. products. Net export growth from other suppliers has been negligible as larger exports from the EU and India offset declines in China and Argentina,” the report said.



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