(Posted Mon. Sep 9th, 2013)

Sept. 9:  In 2012 Korea was the third largest corn importer in the world and the fourth largest market for U.S. corn. Yet because of the drought of 2012, U.S. imports have dropped to less than 1 percent so far in the 2013 calendar year, according to Korean import statistics. This has propelled the U.S. Grains Council to engage in aggressive programming to reinvigorate Korean buyers for U.S. corn.


The Council has been active in Korea since opening an office there in 1972, and Korea remains an important market. Korea produces very little coarse grains and imports more than 98 percent of total consumption. Corn has dominated in Korean grains import market, ranging from 65-85 percent of the total market.


A delegation of U.S. corn producers was escorted by the Council in Korea last week and has continued to Japan to reassure long-time customers of the United States' ability to produce to satisfy its customers' needs. The group, consisting of farmers and representatives from across Iowa, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri, met with Korean feed grain buyers who represent 83 percent of the market.


The Korean market is unique in its ability to adapt rations quickly in response to changing market prices which has caused U.S. market share to drop.


"In the aftermath of the 2012 drought, U.S. grain producers are trying to mitigate natural disasters through reinvestment on the farm," said Gene Baumgardner, Ohio Corn Marketing Program district 14 board member. "This message was well received by foreign buyers searching for relief from high commodity prices."


The USGC delegation is actively fostering relationships between the United States and its largest international customers, stressing the importance of the export markets and reestablishing the United States as the preferred, reliable, long-term supplier of quality feed grains.


"Korean buyers were impressed with the U.S. effort to increase corn production through new technology" said Byong Min, USGC director in Korea. "Korean import buyers will likely return to purchasing U.S. corn when the price becomes competitive because Korean feed millers and corn processors prefer to use U.S. corn that produces higher quality end-products."