Japanese feed corn millers traveled to the United States in late September to survey the current year’s corn crop and tour the grain value chain in Iowa, Nebraska and Washington. This team represents just one part of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) work over more than five decades to build and maintain trust with one of the largest and most loyal U.S. corn customers.
“Team members were impressed with the size of farmers’ operations – including the size of equipment like combines and tractors – and with the robust practices by farmers and the grain value chain in checking and maintaining grain quality,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. “Most importantly, the mission strengthened the team’s confidence in the stable supply of high-quality U.S. corn.”
Trade teams are a powerful tool for market development, allowing participants the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the farmers and agribusinesses who produce the corn and related products their companies purchase year-in and year-out. The Council arranges for multiple teams from Japan to visit the United States each year to provide up-to-date market information and to reinforce the quality, value and reliability of the U.S. corn supply.
“Prospective corn buyers from any country want to experience every point in the value chain. That’s why the Council strives to bring buyers together with sellers to facilitate trade around the world,” said Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and chief executive officer.
“Japan has been a longstanding trading partner with the United States and is our second largest buyer of grains in all forms. We were excited to educate these newer, less-experienced Japanese feed corn millers, showcase major production facilities and farms in our country and demonstrate just how proud we are of the corn quality in the United States, so we can continue to cement these relationships for U.S. farmers and Japanese end-users in years to come.”
Thus far in the 2018/2019 marketing year (Sept. 2018-July 2019), Japan has purchased 16 million metric tons of U.S. grains in all forms, up nearly 8 percent year-over-year. That increase includes a 10 percent increase in U.S. corn purchases to 12.7 million tons (nearly 500 million bushels) – the second largest destination for the feed grain – as well as higher distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) imports at 461,000 tons and significant sales of sorghum and barley.
The varied industries responsible for these significant sales are represented by the diversified Japanese trade teams that regularly travel to the United States. September’s team follows other Japanese trade teams in 2019, including a team in August dedicated to sorghum for both animal and human food use; a team of Japanese government regulators in August who came to the States specifically to meet with U.S. government regulators, biotech seed companies and biotech industry organizations; and a team in July seeking to gain perspective on how corn ethanol and corn starch could contribute to bio-based products.
While each team has a slightly different goal, all serve the Council’s objective of acting as a bridge between U.S. farmers and agribusinesses and Japanese importers, grain processors and end-users. Through these close relationships and the Council’s high-level of engagement, Japanese customers remain a stable market for U.S. coarse grains and co-products.
About the U.S. Grains Council
The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 13 key markets and representatives in an additional 15 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.