(Posted Wed. Oct 8th, 2014)
While price is an important consideration for buyers of corn and other commodities, the United States’ reputation for reliability and honesty is also a significant market asset. The U.S. Grains Council has been promoting these benefits in top markets around the globe and will continue to do so as the United States begins harvest for another record corn crop.
The United States exported more than 11 percent of the U.S. corn supply in the 2013/2014 marketing year, which ended Aug. 31. More than 100 countries purchased the U.S. commodity.
U.S. corn exports to Japan enjoyed a powerful rebound, with USDA reports showing 2013/2014 exports and outstanding sales of 11.8 million metric tons (465 million bushels). The Council has been able to provide Japanese end-users with timely, reliable information to reinforce their traditional preference for U.S. corn. This included presentation of the Council’s 2013/2014 Corn Harvest Quality Report at the Japanese Outlook Conference last January. Now in their third year, the Council’s Corn Harvest Quality and Corn Export Cargo Quality reports have become recognized benchmarks for Japanese buyers who monitor the U.S. crop with great care.
Colombia also saw a dramatic rebound in U.S. sales. U.S. corn had become uncompetitive in recent years due to more favorable tariff treatment for South American producers. Implementation of the long-delayed U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (FTA), recent policy changes and the Council’s promotion in that market resulted in dominant market share in the past year. In April 2013, the Colombian Price Ban System increased the duty on South American origin imports to 5.75 percent. Thanks to the U.S.-Colombia FTA, however, the first 2.1 million tons (82.7 million bushels) of U.S. corn imports have a zero percent duty. Overall, the U.S. provided more than 95 percent of the 3.4 million ton (134 million bushels) Colombian corn market, with expectations favorable for the coming year also.
The good news extends to North Africa. For the 2013/2014 marketing year, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia took a combined 3.0 million tons (118.1 million bushels) of U.S. corn (accumulated exports plus outstanding sales), compared to nothing over the same period last marketing year.
“A year ago, North Africa dropped off the charts in terms of U.S. corn sales,” said U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight. “But this year, Egypt took nearly as much corn (whole grain) as China, and Morocco and Tunisia are again buying U.S. corn.”
Black Sea producers will continue to provide strong regional competition, but the rebound in U.S. sales this year demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong and creative presence in rapidly evolving regional markets.
Heading into the 2014/2015 marketing year, the Council has more plans to develop new markets for U.S. corn. Examples of this include the Council exploring markets for U.S. ethanol demand overseas, building demand for coarse grains and co-products across the globe, including Latin America, Tanzania, China and Japan, in livestock sectors through tours of U.S. facilities, and Export Exchange 2014, the premier international trade conference focused on the export of U.S. coarse grains and co-products.