Prices, policy, outreach stoke overseas interest in US corn

Farm Forum

International buyers of U.S. corn in markets like Korea, Mexico, Colombia and Taiwan are taking advantage of low prices, strong policies and the ongoing market development work done by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in their countries.

In Korea, buying groups recently purchased eight cargos of corn that totaled 526,000 metrics tons (20.7 million bushels), highlighting this sophisticated market’s ability to adapt quickly to changes in the market.

“U.S. corn in our market is more competitively priced than that from South America,” said USGC Director in Korea Haksoo Kim. “When taking into account availability, quality and price, U.S. corn is expected to maintain an edge in the Korean market at least until May when Brazil’s second crop corn will potentially create new dynamics.”

In recent months, this price competitiveness has also influenced sales to Mexico, which has purchased almost 10.8 million tons (425.2 million bushels) of U.S. corn this marketing year as of March 31. That is almost 1.6 million tons (63 million bushels) more than last year at the same time.

“Mexico has been a long-time, very good customer of U.S. corn and feed grains,” said USGC Director in Mexico Ryan LeGrand. “Sales this year are showing the influence of the country’s growing feed sector, which is increasing demand for corn and other coarse grains that the United States can easily supply.”

Meanwhile, a free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia is helping boost sales of U.S. corn to that country, which is again on track to fill its duty-free quota before the calendar year’s end.

“In January, Colombia’s duty-free quota reset, and U.S. corn once again had the advantage that is leading to an uptick in their purchases,” said USGC Regional Director for the Western Hemisphere Marri Carrow. “As of March 23, Colombia had purchased almost 1.3 million tons (51.2 million bushels) of U.S. corn during calendar year 2016, which is more than 50 percent of their duty-free quota.”

In Taiwan, sales of U.S. corn spiked when four buying groups purchased 320,000 tons (12.6 million bushels) at the end of March, following a visit by USGC Senior Director of Global Programs Cary Sifferath to complement local market development efforts.

“During this visit, we were able to meet with several high-ranking government officials and key industry leaders,” said USGC Director in Taiwan Clover Chang. “The Taiwanese decision-makers were able to get their questions answered about U.S. corn production, supply, prices and quality, which helped build their confidence in the U.S. supply and eventually lead to these purchases.”

These examples from around the world highlight the importance of the Council’s efforts to find demand in the short term and build off the high-quality, established brand of U.S. corn for long-term success.

While this work is tailored for each individual market’s needs, much of it focuses on taking advantage of market dynamics, ensuring strong policy is in place to support sales and providing customer service unmatched by world competitors.

The Council’s international staff members working out of 10 global offices are trusted bridges between U.S. agriculture and the global grain trade, maintaining close working relationships with key global contacts and creating year-long dialogues with buyers.