Brazil’s corn exports fell sharply in February as soybean shiments take center stage and Chinese buyers turn to countries like the United States and Ukraine for supplies.
According to revised Brazilian trade data, the country’s corn sales to China were 70,000 tonnes last month, down from 983,700 tonnes in January and more than 1 million tonnes in December.
Last month, total corn shipments from Brazil also dropped by more than 60% compared to January, to around 2.275 million tonnes, as exporters focus on shipping Brazil’s new soy crop to clients overseas.
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“February is not traditionally a month for corn exports from Brazil,” said Paulo Molinari, a corn analyst with Safras & Mercado. “Brazil will only increase shipments (of the cereal) from July onwards,” he added.
Brazil is currently planting its second corn crop, which represents 70-75% of national output in a given year. When Brazil’s second corn crop is ready, analysts will be able to gauge China’s real appetite for Brazilian corn, analysts said.
After authorizing Brazilian corn imports late last year, China became Brazil’s biggest corn buyer in December and in January, according to Brazil trade data. Based on expectations of strong demand from China going forward, Brazil could surpass the United States as early as this year and the world’s biggest corn supplier, according to some forecasts.
Last month, Brazil’s more traditional corn importers became relevant again, with Japan demanding 542,000 tonnes in addition to South Korea, which imported 276,200 tonnes, trade data showed.
Frederico Humberg, CEO of trading firm AgriBrasil, told Reuters China bought “a lot” of corn from the United States in February, which helps explain the fall in Brazil’s sales. The fact Ukraine remains an exporter, though a rather unstable one, also means competition to Brazil.
“Ukraine [supplies] comes and goes,” Humberg said. “It’s always the cheapest corn, but without shipment guarantees.”
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Roberto Samora Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Steven Grattan)