The Grain Trade is “in the MICKs”

With the recent summit held in Durban, South Africa, it appears as though BRICS are changing from an acronym used to describe a loose alliance of Brazil's, Russia's, India's, China's and South Korea's national economies to a global economic agenda. However, don't expect the BRICS to be leading the world in corn imports. Kevin Roepke, U.S. Grains Council manager of global trade, has coined his own developing nation alliance of grain imports term, or in other words, a "BRICS of the global grain trade."

"It's called MICKs (pronounced mix) and the group consists of Mexico, Indonesia, China and South Korea," Roepke said. "It represents some of the world's fastest developing countries that are also the largest growth markets for global feed grains, especially corn."

Consider the macro-economic numbers:

  • The weighted average for GDP growth forecasts in 2013 for BRICS countries are at 6.0 percent
  • The weighted average for GDP growth forecasts in 2013 for MICKs countries are at 6.53 percent
  • An average GDP for BRICS countries at $2.9 trillion, compared to an average GDP of MICKs countries at $3.0 trillion.
  • Total GDP for BRICS at $14.8 trillion compared to GDP for MICKs at $12.0 trillion (with one less country)
  • Weighted average nominal GDP per capita of $2,764 for BRICS compared to $3,894 for MICKs, indicating a wealthier population
  • Total population of 2.95 billion for BRICS compared to 1.76 billion for MICKs

"The only macro indicator the MICKs countries lag is total population (due to India)," Roepke said. "Even then, MICKs still outperform BRICS in terms of total wealth."

If you look at the other side of the coin - total grain imports - the results are quite compelling. MICKs countries definitely outperform the rest of the world in terms of growth and total demand.

According to the USDA, over the next 10 years MICKs will account for 29 million metric tons (1.1 billion bushels) of global corn import growth versus just over 20 million tons (787 million bushels) for the rest of the world.

"That's rather exciting when you figure that is new demand," Roepke said.

Consider these other forecasts from the USDA's 10 year outlook (2022/23 compared to 2012/13):

  • China and Mexico will both leapfrog Japan as the world's number one and number two corn importer, respectively
  • South Korea is forecasted to increase corn imports by almost 20 percent
  • Mexico is forecasted to nearly double feed grain imports in 10 years

"I think many people will be surprised by this list," Roepke commented. "Everyone knows about the potential for China, but Mexico always goes under the radar, and South Korea is dubbed as a 'mature' market."

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