U.S. corn is leaving the country as quickly as it can be loaded, with 12,053,200 metric tons (MT) (nearly 475 million bushels) already sold and delivered in marketing year 2020/2021, and another 29,526,600 MT (nearly 1.2 billion bushels) waiting to head to their overseas destinations as of Dec. 12, 2020, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) reports.
The total of sales yet to be shipped and those that have been delivered is up by 242% over the last marketing year at this time, driven by increased sales to each of the top five 2020/2021 buyers. Sales to China alone are up 19,521% alone.
USGC said China is a big and unexpected player in global corn markets, having bought at least 11,673,300 MMT (460 million bushels), including 7,570,600 MT (298 million bushels) still yet to be shipped in the coming months. Corn sold to "unknown destinations" totals 7,007,700 MT (276 million bushels), a record. Almost certainly some of that corn is destined for China, as well.
The other top buyers so far in this marketing year - Mexico, Japan, Colombia and South Korea - have also increased purchases over a year ago at this time, by a total of 5,452,500 MT (214 million bushels), looking to lock in prices as global corn and soybean supplies tighten.
Additionally, sales of U.S. corn have been booked to Taiwan, Vietnam, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Israel, which USGC explained is a turnaround from a year ago, when U.S. origin was facing stiff competition from South America and the Black Sea.
The diversity of buyers is being driven to the market by weather, internal demand factors and price, USGC noted, adding that this speaks to the importance of strong trade policy and market development work to demonstrate the reliability of the U.S. as a supplier.
The U.S. Grains Council, which carries out market development on behalf of the U.S. feed grains and ethanol industries, works in 50 countries and the European Union in a typical year, including all of those finding new needs for U.S. corn this year.