Colombia: 95% Of Corn Imports Go to Animal Feed


Mar 27, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Colombian Corn production is forecast at 1.5 million MT with an estimated harvested area of 380,000 hectares (ha) in MY 2022/23. Rising input costs, primarily fertilizers, will affect productivity and discourage farmers from enlarging the planted area. Offsetting these factors, high local Corn prices that depend on the imported Corn price and exchange rate might contribute to maintaining Corn production on average levels. In MY 2021/22, FAS Bogota revised the Colombian Corn production figure by 3.9 percent from the estimated 1.6 million MT. This increase results from higher yields due to improvements in production practices and favorable weather conditions in some producing regions in the center of Colombia.

Steady Corn production in recent years results from improving yields due to technological advances and replacing traditional seeds with modern ones. In CY 2021, Colombia planted 142,974 hectares of genetically engineered (GE) Corn, the most ever planted in one year and 31 percent more than the previous year. Colombia produces yellow and white Corn. According to Fenalce, in CY 2021, 71 percent of Colombian total Corn production was yellow Corn; in the previous year, it accounted for 66 percent. The two types of Corn tend to be grown interchangeably by farmers, depending on market conditions, since they have the exact production requirements.

Corn production is divided into two categories: large-scale, modern production, which includes medium and large industrial farms, and traditional production, which is comprised of small landholdings. Colombia’s average Corn yield is nearly 4.0 MT/Ha. According to the Colombian Association of Cereal and Legume Producers (Fenalce), in a calendar year (CY) 2021, 81 percent of Colombia’s total Corn production was from modern, hybrid seed with an average yield of 5.5 MT/Ha. There are 17 producing regions in Colombia, but seven produce nearly 70 percent of total production.

Colombia: 95% Of Corn Imports Go to Animal Feed

Colombian Corn Consumption

Corn consumption is forecast to remain unchanged at 7.6 million MT in MY 2022/23. Despite Colombia’s economy recovering in 2022, increasing international prices of Corn and global uncertainty will slow down consumption growth. According to manufacturers, Corn represents nearly 60 percent of the animal feed formulation, and high-cost inputs can restrict production levels of animal proteins. In MY 2021/22, Corn consumption is estimated to reach the same 7.6 million MT driven by the economic recovery that increased demand, primarily from the animal feed sector.

In CY 2022, poultry and livestock sectors were expected to increase further due to increased animal protein demand from households and resumed operations of several economic sectors, including the food service and institutional sectors. In CY 2021, all animal protein sectors grew more than expected to respond to increasing demand due to Colombia’s economic growth. In 2021, Colombia’s GDP grew 10.2 percent, higher than the 7.8 percent estimate after the economic contraction of 6.8 percent in 2020.

Ninety-five percent of Corn imports are destined for animal feed, with the remaining 5 percent for human consumption. About 10 percent of local production is for animal feed, while 90 percent is for the food processing sector. Colombian Corn consumption is growing faster than production, and Colombia is highly dependent on imports. According to AgFlow data, Colombia imported 0.8 million tons of Corn from Brazil in Jan-Feb, followed by the US (0.3 million tons) and Argentina (0.1 million tons). Total import volume hit 6.7 million tons in 2022.

The largest consumer in the animal feed industry is the poultry sector, accounting for 65 percent of total feed imports in CY 2021. Livestock and swine sectors consumed 25 percent, and the remaining 10 percent was destined for aquaculture and household pets. The trends in feed demand determine grain feed imports and production in Colombia.

Other sources: USDA

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