South Korean Team Reassured Of U.S. Crop Supply During Illinois Visit

Illinois farmers and local grain merchants visited with major corn buyers from South Korea last week during an in-person trade team to the state, one of the first since the beginning of the pandemic.

The program provided the opportunity to build a closer relationship between the U.S. corn industry and key Korean stakeholders and to reassure the delegation of future supplies of U.S. grain and co-products for the South Korean market.

South Korea was the fifth-largest market for U.S. grains in all forms (GIAF) in the 2019/2020 marketing year, importing more than 6.41 million metric tons (equivalent to 252.3 million bushels). The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) GIAF calculation offers a holistic view of feed grain sold to overseas customers in both unprocessed and value-added forms.

A Korean corn buyer from Nonghyup Feed Inc. (NOFI) traveled to the United States for this series of meetings. NOFI represents 2.4 million farmers from the world’s eighth-largest cooperative, a group that is responsible for importing 3.179 MMT of feed grains in 2020, including 2.6 MMT (102.4 million bushels) of corn.

While on the ground, the buyer and another Korean stakeholder met with U.S. grain exporters, visited a barge loading elevator on the Illinois River and toured two corn farms, hosted by Paul Jeschke and Jason Lay. At each of these stops, members of the U.S. corn value chain were able to demonstrate the ability and commitment of the U.S. to be a reliable supplier of quality grains and co-products.

The Korean delegation also had a chance to hear from 15 farmer members of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board about planting and crop conditions of the 2021/2022 corn crop across all regions of Illinois during a stop at the Illinois Corn office.

“Our time in Illinois helped reassure our important Korean customer of the U.S. corn supplies and logistics to move the crop to export channels,” said Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director of global programs. “The delegation asked important questions about the U.S. corn market and enjoyed connecting with the producers who are growing the crop to feed their demand.”

Ranking as the fourth-largest market for U.S. corn in 2019/2020, South Korean purchases totaled about 2.62 million metric tons (103 million bushels) of U.S. corn. The Council’s promotion efforts helped South Korea rank as the second-largest buyer of U.S. DDGS in 2019/2020 at more than 1.22 million metric tons of sales, continuing a seven-year trend of increased DDGS purchases.

Learn more about the Council’s efforts in Korea.