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US Corn, Soy Exporters Continue Battling Huge Brazilian Supplies

US Corn, Soy Exporters Continue Battling Huge Brazilian Supplies

U.S. corn export demand has not been impressive in the last year or so as China has eased purchases from the former No. 1 exporter, opting to source from Brazil, the new king of corn.

Although China’s interest has declined, other U.S. corn export demand has been better than a year ago. The same cannot be said for U.S. soybeans and Brazil is again the reason.

As of Sept. 28, about 14.4 million metric tons of U.S. corn had been sold for export in the current season according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data published on Thursday. The 2023-24 marketing year for U.S. corn and soybeans began on Sept. 1.

USDA predicts 2023-24 U.S. corn exports to rise 23% on the year to 52.1 million tons (2.05 billion bushels). That means that 28% of expected annual export volume was sold as of last week, below the date’s five-year average of 32%, but better than the year-ago mark of 23%.

It is too early to say whether the slower-than-average corn sales pace implies that the current export target cannot be met, but China’s involvement is significantly lighter than in the last three years. China has about 780,000 tons of U.S. corn secured for 2023-24 compared with 3.4 million tons at this point a year ago and nearly 12 million tons two years ago.

China’s absence is overshadowing better U.S. export demand elsewhere, especially compared with the sluggish year-ago levels. Top U.S. corn buyer Mexico had 7.5 million tons of 2023-24 corn on the books as of Sept. 28, a record volume for the date and more than 20% above the previous high. Total U.S. corn export sales for 2023-24 minus those to China are almost 40% higher than at the same point a year ago.


USDA expects soybean exports at 48.7 million tons (1.79 billion bushels) in 2023-24, down 10% on the year. Only 38% of that target was sold as of Sept. 28, below the five-year average of 45%.

In recent years, final soybean exports were lower than the September estimate whenever sales coverage was below 40% by this date, potentially suggesting further downside for this year. However, two of the three latest instances coincided with the U.S-China trade war.

Sales progress was especially bad last month. U.S. exporters sold just 2.6 million tons of soybeans in the first four weeks of the 2023-24 marketing year, a 12-year low for the period. Corn sales were closer to average over that same time frame, but both corn and soy are being limited by Brazil’s rising presence.

Brazil’s August and September soybean exports were record-large, nearly 50% better than a year ago. These two months often feature Brazil’s strongest corn exports, and that was overwhelmingly true this year as the August-September volume topped 2022’s record by 30%.

Preliminary data suggests Brazil’s combined corn and soybean shipments through the first nine months of 2023 exceeded 121 million tons, up 28% on the year and by far the biggest annual growth rate in a decade.



Photo Credit: gettyimages-fotokostic

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