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U.S. feed grains kick off marketing year with brisk exports

Total exports increase 32% from same quarter last year.

Exports of U.S. feed grains have a promising outlook after the completion of the first quarter of the 2016-17 marketing year, according to recently published U.S. Department of Agriculture trade data.

Total exports of feed grains in all forms in September, October and November 2016 reached 27.9 million metric tons (1.1 billion bu.), up 32% from the same quarter last year.

The feed grains in all forms calculation takes into account the grain equivalent of the value-added and processed forms of feed grains as well as unprocessed grains.

Sharply higher exports of corn (up 83%) and ethanol (up 85%) and moderately higher exports of beef (up 19%), pork (up 15%) and poultry (up 13%) offset lower shipments of barley (down 82%), sorghum (down 60%) and dried distillers grains with solubles (down 4%) in this time frame.

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) said the strong first quarter and USDA's latest full-year forecasts for many of the product categories indicate that worldwide U.S. shipments of grains in all forms in 2016-17 could be higher than the past marketing year, even reaching a new record high.

U.S. exports of corn during the first quarter of the new marketing year reached 14 mmt (550.4 million bu.). In those three months, Mexico, Japan and South Korea were the top three customers of U.S. corn, respectively.

Mexico imported 18% more in the current first quarter compared with a year ago — increasing from 2.78 mmt (109.4 million bu.) in the 2015-16 marketing year to 3.27 mmt (128.9 million bu.). U.S. corn exports to Japan rose 72% from 1.64 mmt (64.5 million bu.) to 2.80 mmt (110.6 million bu.). Korea imported 1.58 mmt (62.4 million bu.), up from just 69,000 mt (2.7 million bu.) during the same period in the previous marketing year. Other countries increasing their imports included Peru, Nicaragua, Panama, Taiwan and Indonesia.

U.S. ethanol exports in the first quarter reached 353 million gal., up 85% from the same quarter last year, and representing 3.2 mmt (126.4 million bu.) of corn equivalent. USGC said the primary reason for this strong performance was the competitiveness of U.S. ethanol compared to Brazil, its main competitor.

USGC also noted that the top three U.S. ethanol customers for the quarter included Brazil, Canada and China, respectively, with other top 10 markets showing sizable gains from last year including India, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Nigeria. The cumulative-to-date volume of U.S. ethanol exports for the 2016-17 marketing year is more than 40% of the previous marketing year's total volume of 868.3 mmt.

Exports of dried distillers grains with solubles totaled 3 mmt, down 3.2% from 3.12 mmt in last year's first quarter. Exports to Vietnam and Mexico remained strong, with 487,000 and 451,000 mt sold, respectively.

USGC said its global staff is continuing a marketing push to increase near-term sales and, ultimately, help support farmer prices in a time of high production and an unsure farm economy.

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