15 de mayo de 2015 / 21:29 / hace 2 años

U.S. exporters eye Latin America as growth market for low-priced corn

CHICAGO, May 15 (Reuters) - Increases in 2015/16 U.S. corn exports are likely to be spurred by growing demand in countries like Colombia and Peru, analysts said on Friday, as sellers replace market share lost in China and elsewhere in Asia to cheaper South American supplies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week said corn exports would rise by roughly 2 million tonnes to 48.26 million tonnes in the season starting Sept. 1, the second straight year of increased shipments.

"Additional demand is out there because prices are lower - a majority of buyers are more comfortable buying. That's spread out across a lot of markets but Latin America has really picked up," said Kurt Shultz, director of global strategies at the U.S. Grains Council, a trade group.

Corn futures at $3.65 per bushel are near five-year lows on the back of record global production.

"We are finding new markets but it will be a price battle," said Jack Scoville, analyst at the Price Futures Group.

While U.S. corn shipments from Sept. 1 to May 7 were down 5 percent from a year ago at 28.8 million tonnes, shipments to Peru through to March, the most recently available data, were up 80 percent, according to the USDA.

The agency predicts steady shipments there next year, of more than 2 million tonnes.

Peru typically bought most of its corn from Argentina, Shultz said. But import duty incentives agreed in a 2009 trade deal kicked in last autumn, making U.S. supplies more attractive.

Shipments of U.S. corn to Colombia, where poultry production is at the highest in at least a decade, could rise to a record 4.5 million tonnes next season.

"People are switching to pork chops from rice and beans, and that will be good for every corn exporter," said Scoville.

But cheaper corn supplies offered by Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine are undercutting the United States in South Korea and Taiwan, markets it traditionally dominated.

Taiwan bought 130,000 tonnes from Brazil, where corn prices at Paranagua port of $160 per tonne C-FOBPNG-A1 were more than $10 cheaper than prices at the U.S. Gulf Coast 2YC-USG-C1, European traders said on Friday.

China, once seen as a growth market for U.S. corn, is likely to buy less than 500,000 tonnes in 2015-16, down from 3 million tonnes in 2013-14, as a record domestic crop fills up demand.

"The market is all but closed," a U.S. corn exporter said of China. (Additional reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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