When looking at peanut trade trends, no matter how you slice and dice the data, one thing stands out, and that is the role China plays in the global peanut market, says William George, senior agriculture economist for the Office of Global Analysis, USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.

“As a major producer, consumer, and exporter of peanuts, their footprint in the market is large and therefore worth watching for changes in consumption and trade,” said George at the annual meeting of the American Peanut Research & Education Society (APRES), held this year in Young Harris, Ga.

Perhaps the most important item of note, says George, has been the slow decline in China’s peanut exports over the past decade. 

“In addition, Chinese buyers have recently made some large purchases of lower-priced peanuts, presumably for import into China. Experience has taught that changes in China’s marketing patterns often alter the landscape and materially impact the flow of commodities between exporters and importers. 

“Of the two stories here, the simpler one concerns the trend in China’s exports,” he says.


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Looking at peanut production and examining global production shares for peanuts harvested in late 2012 or early 2013, China dominates global production, accounting for nearly half of the world’s harvest, according to George.

“The U.S. ranks third behind India at 8 percent.  However, this includes last year’s large crop so more typically, the U.S. share of global production is closer to 5 percent with India a bit higher at 15 percent. 

“Others, representing about a third of world production, are mostly in Africa and Asia and generally do not have much presence in global trade.”

As might be expected, says George, the three largest producers are also major players in global peanut trade. 

“To this, we add Argentina to the mix.  Despite their small share of global production, they are the largest exporter of raw peanuts and represent more than a quarter of total peanut trade.