U.S. Peanut Farmers Look to Expand Exports to Russia
Annoyed by four years of tumbling exports, U.S. peanut industry officials are encouraged by what they hope will become a growing market in Russia, a trend that would benefit peanut farmers and rural communities throughout the southern United States, where the crop is grown.
Canada is the leading importer of U.S. peanuts, buying 70,374 tons last year, followed by the Netherlands with 27,835 tons and Mexico with 21,740 tons. Russia climbed to 10th place in 2005, importing just 1,522 tons. But Russia has already nearly doubled that in the first half of this year, with imports totaling 2,652 tons.
“I think it’s a golden opportunity if we can keep it going,” Tyron Spearman of Tifton, publisher of a peanut industry newsletter, told Associated Press. “It’s significant that they’ve moved up. They were off the radar screen before that.”
Argentina, a major competitor in the world peanut market, had a short crop last year and that may have prompted Russians to buy more U.S. peanuts, said Sally Klusaritz, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Agriculture Department in Washington.
But Patrick Archer, president of the American Peanut Council, said it was an indication of a growing market for higher-quality snacks, including American-style potato chips and candy bars loaded with U.S. peanuts.
“Several multinational companies now have a presence in Russia, which has raised the overall quality of Russian snack foods,” Archer said. “With that rise in quality, there’s been an increased demand for high-quality U.S. peanuts.”