Global Markets: Coarse Grains – Taiwan Imports Record Amounts of Corn from South Africa

    Harvested corn pouring into grain truck. Photo: University of Tennessee

    2021/22 Taiwan corn imports from South Africa already reach just over 650,000 tons between October 2021 and May 2022, more than double last year’s annual total from the market. Imports to date (Oct 2021 to May 2022) are 3.0 million metric tons, nearly unchanged from the same period a year ago.

    Taiwan corn production is limited, and the country relies on corn imports to meet industry feed demand for pork and poultry production. This demand has been stable in recent years – Taiwan imported 4.5 million tons in 2019/2020 and 4.3 million in 2020/21.

    High agricultural commodity and freight prices have not deterred the rate of Taiwanese corn imports due to continuing demand for animal products locally, and subsequently corn imports are forecast at 4.4 million tons in 2021/22.

    Taiwan’s main suppliers for corn imports are Argentina, Brazil, and the United States. However, in 2020/21, severe drought conditions in Brazil led to low levels of corn production and consequently lower exports.

    Brazil corn exports in 2020/21 to destinations in Asia were down significantly on the account of rising prices and higher shipping costs. Brazil corn exports to Taiwan dropped to 1.7 million tons in 2020/21, compared to 2.8 million tons in 2019/20.

    Year to date 2021/22, Taiwan corn imports from the United States are at 412,000 tons – around 9 percent of imported corn volume. This stands in comparison to the same period in 2020/21 where imports from the United States were at 1.3 million tons – nearly a third of total imported corn volume.

    Outstanding sales to Taiwan from the United States are at nearly 45,000 tons for the remainder of 2021/2022, and sales for 2022/23 are just 4,505 tons.

    In South Africa, record high corn prices and high stocks from 3 consecutive bumper crops ensured a favorable environment for exports. In addition to ample supplies, South African corn prices are competitive against other major exporters to Taiwan currently at $350/ton. These price factors likely led to a surge in imports to meet feed demand in 2021/22.

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