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US: Chinese demand boosts Georgia peanut industryGeorgia peanut growers are getting a boost from Chinese consumers that the is likely to see new export records set.
A delegation of buyers from the Asian nation were last week in the States and ended up purchasing thousands of tons of Georgia's nuts. More buyers are expected in the next few weeks.
There were over 1 million tones of peanuts in US warehouses last year after a bumper crop, which also saw prices plummet. At the same time, India, China's usual source, experienced severe drought and a decline in production, which saw the Chinese turn elsewhere for their supplies. So far the Chinese have purchased 80,000 tons of Georgian peanuts and are expected to double this in the coming months.
University of Georgia Extension Peanut Economist Dr. Nathan Smith said "China coming in and purchasing peanuts is certainly a good thing for our economy. To help us work down that supply, that over supply of peanuts."
Georgia Buying Points Association Executive Director Tyron Spearman said "The sellers are running behind. They are operating around the clock, but they can't keep up. Blanching is behind as well. The domestic market has been bumped up because of the Chinese coming to the table."
The state is expected to triple last year's export figure of 30,000 tons as a result of the new found demand. Agricultural officials in Georgia expect that, now the market has been opened it remain open in coming years.
Spearman said "The quality that Georgia has right now is going to impact the market. And that's what is going to make them come back. They'll come back for more next year."
It is to be hoped this will prove to be the case, as some growers, keen to cash in on the new market, are opting to increase production. Any loss of market share after this could result in even larger gluts than the one being faced before the Chinese showed interest,
A near record 735,000 acres of peanuts were planted in Georgia last year. it was initially expected that this would be halved this year.
Now, with demand and prices increasing. farmers have more options, but the increased demand means things have turned out rather differently than anticipated.
Publication date: 3/6/2013
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