ramping up imports of Brazilian corn

context: As the PRC's traditional corn sources, mainly the US and Ukraine, have become fragile due to the fraught China-US relations and conflict in the Black Sea region, China has made huge progress in terms of buying corn from Brazil. The market is expecting further shipments from South American countries.

A ship carrying 68,000 tonnes of corn imported from Brazil by COFCO reached the port in Guangdong on 7 January. The imports will soon be transported to domestic feed firms after clearing inspection and quarantine, Xinhua reported. During the nine years before 2022, China rarely bought Brazilian corn. The shipment marked the official launch of a new trade corridor between the two countries. ANEC, a Brazilian trade group representing grain exporters, predicted that some 5 million tonnes of corn would reach China in 2023.

Domestic ag experts spoke highly of this development, arguing it indicates the strategic restructuring of China's corn import sources, challenging the dominant position of the US. It will result in a more diversified corn importing landscape in which North America, South America and the Black Sea region complement each other and better balance seasonal and regional fluctuations, said Zhang Zhixian 张智先 CNgrain's research centre vice-dean.

In 2022, prices of imported grains, notably wheat, barley and sorghum, increased significantly, driving up production costs of downstream industries, including food processing, oilseed crushing and animal husbandry. Constrained by limited land resources and the competition for land with other crops, domestic corn supplies cannot fully meet demand. Timely procurement of Brazilian corn helps ease tension in the market, comments Zhang.