“Argentina is a major player in most agricultural commodities including soybeans and corn. Their relatively small population, smaller than Canada’s, limits the size of their domestic market and places the focus on export markets. 

“Nicaragua, with its small domestic market, is similar to Argentina, but on a smaller scale, while Brazil exports around a third of their crop.”

The European Union, adds George, is dominant among peanut importers.  It is the only market where all of the major exporters compete and accounts for about one-third of all peanut trade. 

“The next five markets by size, taken collectively, are about equal in size to the EU. And except for Indonesia, which primarily imports peanut from India, are all important markets for the U.S.” 

Most exporters are dominant in nearby markets, says George. More distant markets in Europe tend to favor imports from Argentina, whereas China is an important market in the Middle East and North Africa.  India is strong in Southeast Asia.

“From my perspective, what strikes me is how similar this distribution is to what you would find for soybean meal. 

“Eliminate Nicaragua, scale back China and significantly increase Brazil, and it would be almost identical. But there are fundamental aspects of trade that transcend all commodities and provide regional advantages for trade from specific countries.”

Looking at peanut export shares over time, China’s market share has declined from 36 percent in calendar year 2007 to 22 percent in calendar year 2012. 

“If we had looked a bit earlier in the decade, we would have found that China’s export share peaked at over 50 percent in 2002 and has been on a downward trend since.”

One side note from this, says George, is that the total share of exports for the U.S., India and China has remained relatively stable at around 60 percent between 2007 and 2012.  However, it’s somewhat of a statistical anomaly brought about by recent purchases by Chinese buyers.