For 2014, peanut exports are expected to be down, Lamb says, after 2013 got a boost from unexpected purchases by China — itself a major grower of peanuts, but increasingly less of an exporter.

“In 2002, China owned about 50 percent of the world peanut export share,” Lamb says. “They were the dominant exporter. But by 2007, they were at 36 percent — a 14 percent drop over five-year period. By 2012, they had dropped to 21 percent.

“China is still growing a lot of peanuts. They’re just not exporting as much of their crop; they’re using more internally.”

India has become a key player in the peanut export market, he notes, and the major supplier of peanuts to China.

“When India’s monsoonal rains failed in 2013, they weren’t able to supply quality peanuts to China. The U.S. was sitting on a huge crop of high quality peanuts, at an attractive price, and China started buying from us. Everyone thought that was going to be more business than finally developed.

“Since then, India’s monsoon has returned to normal, they’ve had one good crop, and are in the process of producing another. And the door to China has basically slammed shut on purchases of U.S. peanuts. Unless something goes wrong with India’s crop, I don’t think China holds much opportunity for us in the immediate future.”

Since the 2002 farm bill, Lamb says, “U.S. peanuts have been on an up-and-down two-year cycle of oversupply and undersupply. I don’t think we’re going to be able to get out of this cycle — we’re going to have to learn to deal with it.”

A carryout at the end of the peanut marketing year (July 31) is considered generally healthy at between 500,000 and 600,000 farmer stock tons, he says.

After the huge 2012 crop, the carryout going into the 2013 marketing year was 1.2 million to 1.3 million farmer stock tons, “a very depressing number; we had increased carryout threefold in just one year.

“Then, we produced 2.1 million farmer stock tons in 2013, and with the carryout, we had a 3.4 million ton working supply. While 2013 demand was up a bit as a result of the Chinese purchases, basically we were looking at a 1.1 million ton carryout going into 2014. So, once again we’ve oversupplied the market.”