August 12, 2008


High prices did not deter South Korea's buying of US corn


Tightened corn supplies did not impact Korea's commitment to purchasing US feed grains, the US Grains Council (USGC) recently said.


The US supplied Korea with 4.7 million tonnes of corn so far in 2008, which translated into 93 percent of the nation's total imports, said Byong Ryol Min, USGC director for Korea.


During the same period in 2007, the US had a 52-percent share.


Korea's import of US corn during the first half of this year was a 14-percent increase over last year.


The increase was mainly to make up for the substantial decrease in feed wheat imports, said Min.


South Korea imported only 9,000 tonnes of feed wheat in the first half of this year compared with 486,000 tonnes in the same period last year.


The Korean Corn Processing Industry Association (KCPIA) imported 89 percent of its total requirement from the US -- far above 9.2 percent in 2007, the USGC noted.


The local corn processing industry started buying biotech corn for food use early this year," Min said, citing KCPIA's purchase of 697,000 tonnes of GM corn in the first two months of 2008.


Ken Hobbie, USGC president and chief executive officer, said the USGC will continue to maintain its support of a free trade agreement with Korea, especially in regards to market expansion for barley and value-added agricultural products.

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