GMO-FREE PRODUCTS: U.S. Grains Council sees South Korea’s 2009 GE corn imports falling
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TITLE: USGC SEES S.KOREA?S 2009 CORN IMPORTS FALLING
SOURCE: Alibaba, USA
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USGC SEES S.KOREA?S 2009 CORN IMPORTS FALLING
- S.Korea?s 09 corn imports seen falling below 08 level
- S.Korea may cut U.S. feed-grade corn buy to 7.5 mln tonnes
- S.Korea may see rise in cheaper feed wheat purchases (Adds details, background)
SEOUL, Dec 3 - South Korea, the world?s No. 3 corn importer, may slash imports of the grain by around 1 million tonnes, as feed makers are set to shift to cheaper alternatives such as wheat, a director of the U.S. Grains Council said on Wednesday.
?Overall corn imports for feed use in 2009 will be similar to this year?s level at best and are more likely to fall below the level as feed makers switch to cheaper wheat products,? Min Byong-ryol, who represents South Korea for the U.S. Grains Council, told Reuters in an interview.
?We estimate around 1 million tonnes of corn imports will be replaced by cheaper wheat originating from countries such as Ukraine and overall imports of feed-use corn will be around 8 million tonnes, with some 7.5 million coming from the United States,? Min said.
South Korea, which imported 6.7 million tonnes of corn for feed use in 2007, has purchased 6.5 million tonnes of feed-grade corn for the first 10 months of this year.
Of the total amount purchased so far this year, 6.2 million tonnes, or 95 percent, was shipped from the United States, a sharp increase from 63 percent a year ago. This was because China, one of the key exporters, had reduced its overseas sales sharply to meet growing domestic consumption.
Tighter credit as a result of the global financial crisis in recent months has also forced South Korean buyers to switch to U.S. grains, which are subsidised to promote exports of U.S. agricultural goods.
Min said imports of food-grade corn, which represents less than 20 percent of South Korea?s total corn imports, were also likely to suffer further decline as food processors switch to cheaper sweeteners such as sugar as scarcity of non-genetically modified corn made the grain less price competitive.
Food-grade corn imports tumbled 19 percent in the first 10 months of this year to 1.25 million tonnes.
LOWER U.S. CORN OUTPUT
Prices of U.S. corn dropped 26 percent this year to $3.31 a bushel and have more than halved from a record high above $7 this summer, outperforming wheat, prices of which have tumbled 42 percent this year to $5.10 a bushel, pressured by prospects of record crop year.
Corn has been well supported by a tight stocks-to-use ratio, with growing demand for the grain from the fast-expanding U.S. ethanol industry providing good support.
Corn output from the United States, the world?s largest corn exporter, is also expected to decrease, as farmers are expected to switch some of their corn acreage to soybeans, which require less fertilisers.
?The reason I?m going to two-thirds corn and one-third soybeans (from a 80 percent corn and 20 percent soybean farm mix this year) is because of an increase in input costs ... Those costs are all pretty fixed for next year,? said Bill Olthoff, who has farmed in Illinois since 1967, told a seminar in Seoul.
Olthoff, who is also a member of U.S. Grains Council, said fertiliser costs have more than doubled from four years ago.
Jay O?Neil, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, told the seminar that U.S. corn crop land will drop to around 86 million acres next year from 94 million this year, as soy acres are likely to rise to 74 million from 65 million.
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