China Corn Import: Rising Power of the Southern Hemisphere


Jul 21, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

According to the latest report released by the research institution “Guomao Futures,” in the first quarter of 2023, China imported 2.16 million tons of Brazilian Corn, accounting for 29.33% of Brazil’s total Corn exports in the first quarter. As a result, China surpassed traditional importing countries such as Japan and became the largest buyer of Brazilian Corn.

After opening up the export channel of Brazilian Corn to China, China quickly included South Africa in its Corn import territory. COFCO, which opened the door to the Chinese market for South African Corn, stated in a press release that Corn is the most essential local crop in South Africa, accounting for about 40% of all crops. South Africa’s Corn production and export volume rank among the top ten in the world. Feed-grade yellow Corn produced in South Africa has a low moisture content, low impurities, and high quality.

Li Guoxiang, a researcher at the Institute of Rural Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that behind the opening of the Corn channel from South Africa to China was a series of complicated work. “This means that the problems involving the entire import and export and upstream planting have been solved, and it also means that more South African Corn will come with the choice of Chinese traders.”

COFCO stated in a press release on May 4 that from the perspective of constructing the global agricultural product supply chain, it has continuously opened Corn export channels from Brazil and South Africa to China. The complementary circulation pattern of the main producing areas is conducive to further balancing the global seasonal and regional Corn supply fluctuations and helping to stabilize China’s global Corn supply chain system.

Corn is an important feed grain in China and occupies an important strategic position in food security. Corn was mentioned five times in the No. 1 Central Document this year, second only to soybeans which were mentioned eight times. In recent years, China’s Corn imports have been increasing yearly.

The No. 1 Central Document clearly stated that the role of international trade in agricultural products should be brought into play, and the diversification strategy of agricultural product imports should be implemented in depth. Li Guoxiang believes that the diversification of Corn sources means that the risk of imports is reduced. In addition to natural disasters, rising geopolitical tensions suggest that China’s grain imports should strengthen risk management and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Li Guoxiang analyzed that due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the focus of Ukrainian Corn exports has shifted to Europe.

China has successively opened up Brazil and South Africa as two sources of Corn imports, changing the previous situation where China’s Corn was highly dependent on the United States and Ukraine, two northern hemisphere countries. The trend of “rising in the south and falling in the north” means that China’s Corn imports, previously dominated by the United States, are undergoing significant changes in 2023.

China Corn Import: Rising Power of the Southern Hemisphere

US Corn Loses Share in the Chinese Market

According to AgFlow data, China imported 2.4 million tons of Corn in June 2023. Key suppliers were Ukraine (1 million tons), the US (0.8 million tons), and Brazil (0.5 million tons). In the first quarter of this year, China imported about 7.52 million tons of Corn. Among them, the most imported Corn was 2.85 million tons from the United States, accounting for 37.8%, followed by Brazilian Corn with 2.16 million tons, accounting for 28.8%; Ukrainian Corn was 2.086 million tons, accounting for 27.7%.

In the previous two years, the United States and Ukraine dominated China’s imported Corn, accounting for more than 90%. Among the Corn imported by China in 2022, American Corn accounted for 72%, and Ukrainian Corn accounted for about 26%.

Other sources: CHINA

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