Buyers From Japan Tour The U.S. Corn Industry

The Japanese corn trade team explores an interactive corn exhibit for children at the farm of USGC Past Chairman Chip Councell.
The Japanese corn trade team also toured an ethanol plant.

Building on decades of successful market development work in Japan, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) hosted this month a team of newer customers from the Japanese corn processing and feed milling industries to learn firsthand about the U.S. corn industry.

“The Japanese corn industry team had a great experience in the United States, learning as much as possible about corn in the one-week stay,” said Tommy Hammoto, USGC director in Japan. “The team covered all the aspects of corn production and use and obtained a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. corn industry.”

Trade teams like this one increase participants' familiarity with U.S. marketing and export logistics as well as connect up-and-coming customers with U.S. suppliers. To achieve these goals, the Japan team toured a farm, grain elevator facilities and agricultural technology providers in Missouri and conducted meetings with the Council and the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) in Washington, D.C. The team also visited the farm of USGC Past Chairman Chip Councell on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. 

“Chip’s farm is an excellent example of following modern conservation practices with explanations of practical uses of big data to conserve soil carbon and other nutrients,” Hammoto said. 

The Council has worked with Japanese grain buyers and end-users to establish and maintain one of the largest and most loyal markets for U.S. feed grains, first opening an office in the country in 1961, a year after the organization was founded.

Japan is the top customer for U.S. corn this marketing year, purchasing 12.7 million metric tons (almost 500 million bushels) thus far (Sept. 2016-July 2017), an increase of 38 percent year-over-year and the most imports since 2010/2011. Overall, Japan’s imports of corn in all forms, including value added products made with corn, increased 32 percent compared to the same period thie year prior with a value of $5.48 billion. 

While the Japanese feed and corn processing industries are committed to buying from the United States due to reliability and origination investments, competition is increasing from other countries. As a result, the Council must continually defend and work to expand market share through high-level engagement with industry, trade and government as well as educating the next generation of customers through efforts like September’s trade team.

“The purpose of the team was to educate, receive updates and discuss the advantages of U.S. corn from the United States,” Hamamoto said. “The team visit is an important part of customer servicing to have the Japanese industry gain knowledge and keep confidence in the stable supply of quality corn from the United States."

Learn more about the Council’s work in Japan here