March 19, 2014
With projections indicating a strong return for the remainder of the 2013-14 marketing year that began September 1, US corn exports to Japan have begun to rebound.
Current USDA reports show outstanding sales and accumulated exports to Japan totalled 8.4 million tonnes for this marketing year through March.
In the 2012-13 marketing year, the US Corn Belt experienced a crippling drought that drove US corn export prices to uncompetitive levels. While many long-time Japanese buyers continued to express a preference for US sourcing, the cost disadvantage imposed too high a premium. Thus, Japan turned to South American corn. However in 2013, US corn production rose to 356 million tonnes, an all-time high, with an average yield of four tonnes per acre. Prices have responded accordingly, and Japanese buyers are again sourcing US corn.
Even during the drought, the US Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, aggressively defended the market for US grains in Japan. The Council has been able to provide Japanese end-users with timely, reliable information to reinforce their traditional preference for US corn.
The Council was able to present the findings of record production and high quality to Japanese end-users at the Japanese Corn Outlook Conference in January. During the conference, participants made it clear that they anticipated a strong recovery of US sourcing, which is happening quickly.
"Japan is back as a top US corn importer and was the top US corn importer for January," said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan.
Council programming promotes the US as a long-term, reliable supplier of high-quality corn and works to reinvigorate robust agricultural trade ties between the US and Japan.