Closer Look: USGC Dives Into Potential For Sales Growth In Colombia

The recently-released U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Outlook Colombia 2030 report found new market development opportunities in the Colombian market as the country’s feed imports are likely to expand significantly faster than historical trends have suggested. This week, Global Update sat down with USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight to discuss the potential impact of the new study as well as a recent rollout of its findings to Colombian feed industry leadership.

Q: What did the study's findings suggest about the future of the Colombian market?

A: The report that we released showed there is a bullish potential for expanding U.S. feed grain exports to Colombia, with Colombia’s corn imports projected to reach 5.5 million metric tons (216.5 million tons) in 2020 and 7.8 million tons (307 million bushels) in 2030.

This bullish outlook is due to continued economic growth in Colombia that will expand the middle class and lead to increased per capita meat consumption. To meet this growing demand by 2030, Colombia’s livestock sector is expected to increase output by more than 50 percent from 2014 levels. However, the country’s lagging crop production performance is projected to continue, which will force Colombia’s livestock producers to depend on feed imports to support their expected expansion.

Q: The meeting at which the Council rolled out this report to Colombian executives was an important step forward for USGC programs in Colombia. Why is that?

A: This event drew in CEO level executives from leading feed, livestock and agricultural groups in Colombia who saw a professional USGC program filled with networking and educational sessions.

Adding value for industry leaders, expanding relationships, building trust and credibility...that’s what this program accomplished.

Q: What will the future course look like?

A: The Council has been engaged in Colombia for more than 25 years, primarily focused on demand building efforts in the poultry and swine sectors. However, we are learning from engagement with the feed and livestock industry there that we need to pivot towards a higher, more engaged view in this market. This means we need to buckle down and encourage, shape and accelerate future modernization of Colombia’s feed and livestock sectors.

We are moving past the time of feeding trials and advancing our programming into a new age in Colombia. This is an exciting time for the Council and for Colombia’s agricultural sector.

Q: Why is making this pivot in Colombia important?

A: Colombia is a strong U.S. corn buyer in the Western Hemisphere. As of April 21, the country has purchased 4.1 million tons (161.4 million bushels) of U.S. corn this marketing year, making it the third largest market for U.S. corn. However, this strong U.S. performance is by no means a long-term guarantee.

We receive strong competition from the Mercosur countries for Colombian sales, including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. In addition, Argentina’s recent elimination of its export tax on agricultural commodities could further erode the United States’ price competitiveness in Colombia. That said, we do benefit from a free trade agreement between our country and Colombia, which has helped our sales there in recent years.

By increasing our engagement we hope to maintain and expand Colombian buyers’ preference for U.S. coarse grains and co-products.

Click here to learn more about the Colombian market.