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China’s Brazilian corn haul surges; US soy hopes briefly rise

by Jonathan Foley
Published: Last Updated on

NAPERVILLE, (Ill.): More than two years after China re-entered their market, US corn exporters are finally being displaced by Brazilian ones as the No. 2 exporter’s shipments to China are set to explode this month.

Nine vessels totaling 606,540 tonnes of Brazilian corn were set for sail to China this month, according to Tuesday’s shipping lineup from Williams Shipping Agency. That compares with two shipments totaling 93,250 tonnes in November based on lineup data.

Phytosanitary requirements prevented China from importing much corn from Brazil before last month, when Beijing approved several Brazilian corn traders for export.

According to Brazilian records, its previous largest annual corn volume to China was about 172,000 tonnes in 2016. Data published on Tuesday by the US Census Bureau showed US corn exports to China of 505,623 tonnes in October, the lowest monthly volume in exactly a year.

That puts total shipments to China in the first two months of 2022-23 up 75% from last year though one-third lower than in 2020. China’s remaining US corn balance is thin, with unshipped 2022-23 sales at 1.8 million tonnes as of Nov. 24. For reference, that is equivalent to the monthly average volume of US corn to China between February and May 2022.


Brazil’s corn may be hogging China’s attention for now, but US soybeans could have an opportunity over the next few weeks until Brazil’s presumably massive soy crop starts hitting the market. Exporter association Anec on Wednesday pegged Brazil’s December soy exports at 1.7 million tonnes, below the five-year average of 2.5 million.

China has been buying some US beans lately, and although the daily amounts are not as glamorous as some in the past, there could be more than meets the eye.

China and unknown destinations, frequently assumed to be China, purchased 1.9 million tonnes of US soy in the week ended Nov. 10. However, only about 40% of that was suggested over four daily sales during that week, an unusually small share.

If that trend continues, the last two weeks of US bean sales could be better than expected. Five bean flashes to either China or unknown have occurred so far in the two weeks ended Dec. 8, totaling 880,000 tonnes, most of it in the second week. Strong sales in these two weeks could potentially justify maintaining US export targets.


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