(Adds context, trader comment, name of vessel)
By Roberto Samora
SAO PAULO, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Brazil this week shipped 60,000 tonnes of corn to the United States, according to Refinitiv data, an unusual export destination given the fact that the country is the largest producer and exporter of the cereal.
The shipment, the first from Brazil to the U.S. this year, was exported by Cargill, ship scheduling information showed.
Cargill did not have an immediate comment.
So far in 2019, Brazil’s corn exports totaled 27.46 million tonnes, surpassing the entire volume sold in foreign markets last year.
In June, market sources said Brazil was selling corn to the United States, with shipments due to start in September, a move that underpins local seller’s ability to access new markets amid a record crop.
The sources said U.S. demand for Brazil’s corn has been driven by fears of crop failure in North America, as U.S. farmers dealt with climate issues in the beginning of the planting season.
At one point this year, these fears pushed Chicago corn prices to peak at around $4.54 per bushel. Corn is currently trading around $3.70.
Refinitiv’s interactive ship monitoring map showed that a vessel called Qing Hua Shan finished loading Cargill’s corn destined to the U.S. on Wednesday.
The ship was loaded at Cantagalo General Grains’ (CGG) terminal at the port of Itaqui, a convenient gateway which is closer to the U.S. than Santos, Brazil’s largest port, located in the country’s Southeast region.
Marcos Bertoni, chief operating officer at CGG, said this has been so far the only U.S.-bound corn shipment from its Itaqui terminal this year, declining to elaborate.
According to Agrostat data, which is compiled by agriculture ministry, Qing Hua Shan’s corn is the first shipment to the commodity bound to the U.S. in 2019.
Brazil’s government forecast corn exports will grow by 47% this season to 35 million tonnes, with adjustments to the estimate becoming more frequent after issues affecting U.S. corn plantings earlier in the season.
“It’s just the first one, there are still others to come,” Frederico Humberg, chief executive at grain trader AgriBrasil, told Reuters on Friday in relation to the prospect of more corn exports this year.
Expectations of record Brazilian exports also reflect a favorable exchange rate and a bumper harvest of nearly 100 million tonnes, traders said.
Brazilian corn export destinations are quite diverse, with the country selling to many destinations.
This year, Brazil is seeing good demand from traditional buyers of U.S. corn, including Mexico and Colombia, which have already bought more than 500,000 tonnes from January to August, according to government data. (Reporting by Roberto Samora Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Marguerita Choy)