In only their third year, the U.S. Grains Council's dual corn quality reports -- the first measuring quality at harvest; the second, at export -- have become key reference points for foreign buyers and end-users in key markets around the world. This week, Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade, shared the Export Cargo Quality Report with appreciative audiences in Japan and Taiwan.
Questioning was vigorous, as buyers acknowledged the generally satisfactory quality of the U.S. crop but honed in on differences between the 2012 and 2013 crops, as well as qualitative changes due to handling since harvest.
This week's U.S. Grains Council's Chart of the Week compares the 2014 corn planting progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released May 5, 2014, to the planting progress over the same period last year, as well as the five-year average. The report indicated that as of May 4, 2014, the 18 states that produced 91 percent of the 2013 corn crop, are 29 percent planted. These 18 states were only 11 percent planted in 2013.
After several years of lagging behind competitors from South America – for reasons ranging from quality concerns to high prices to a lack of ratified free trade agreements – grain exports from the United States to the Western Hemisphere are rebounding dramatically. So far this marketing year (Sept. 1 through April 17), U.S. corn exports have totaled more than 12 million metric tons (472 million bushels) versus 4 million tons (157 million bushels) over the same period last year.
"It is important for our customers to know and understand just what happened throughout the crop year," said Deb Keller, U.S. Grains Council at-large director. "And being there, meeting face-to-face with our end-users, engaging in year-long conversations, keeps us part of the game."
Last week, USGC representatives traveled throughout Mexico to present the findings of the Council's 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report to importers and end-users.
This week's U.S. Grains Council Chart of the Week shows a continued low incidence of aflatoxin in U.S. corn according to the Council's 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report. While the reports for all three years show low incidence of aflatoxin in U.S. corn, the levels in the 2013 crop are the lowest of the three.
As this chart shows, only 7.6 percent of tested samples had aflatoxin levels greater than the minimum level of detection (0.5 parts per billion) compared with 22.2 percent in 2012 and 14.1 percent in 2011.
The U.S. Grains Council recently released its 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report and will begin presenting the report's findings to buyers and other stakeholders around the world in coming weeks.
The Export Quality Report measures the quality of U.S. corn sampled at the point of loading for export. Three export channels are reported: the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and inland terminals shipping by rail to Mexico.
Although corn (or maize, as it's known throughout much of the world) has the honor of being grown in nearly all 50 states, its production is primarily concentrated in the northern and Midwestern states—collectively known as the U.S. Corn Belt.
In the 2014/2015 crop marketing year, (Sept. 1- Aug. 31) the United States grew nearly 14.2 billion bushels (360 million metric tons) of corn and roughly 13 percent of production was exported to more than 100 different countries.
U.S. corn exports to Japan are enjoying a powerful rebound, projecting a strong return for the remainder of the 2013/2014 marketing year that began Sept. 1. Current USDA reports show outstanding sales and accumulated exports to Japan totaled 8.4 million metric tons (331 million bushels) for this marketing year through March 6.
In recent years, Vietnam has emerged as a consistent market for U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), but corn exports have been constrained by regional competition from India and a $5 to 7 per ton shipping advantage for South America versus U.S. corn from the Gulf. A recent spike in U.S. corn exports, however, is providing an opportunity for the U.S. Grains Council to educate buyers about U.S. quality and reliability.
This week's U.S. Grains Council Chart of the Week shows that U.S. exports and outstanding sales in the first several months of the current corn marketing year have more than doubled since the same time period of the previous year and have already exceeded the accumulated total sales of the 2012/2013 marketing year.