Global Markets: Coarse Grains – Foreign Sorghum Exports Lowest Since 2005/06

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The current forecast for 2019/20 (Oct-Sep) foreign sorghum exports is the third-lowest in USDA’s database. World sorghum exports are expected to be the fifth-lowest in history, though the United States has slightly improved prospects relative to the previous year. Sorghum production in the United States, Argentina, and Australia has trended down over the last decade, with Australia’s drought affected production in particular forecast to be the lowest since 1969/70, negatively affecting global exportable supplies.

On the demand side, China’s substantially curtailed demand from its 2014/15 zenith has impacted exports from its primary suppliers, the United States and Australia. Earlier in the last decade, Argentina exported sorghum to other countries in South America and Mexico, but sorghum demand in these markets has tapered off due to plentiful and comparatively inexpensive corn.

Moreover, the feed value of corn is higher than sorghum, giving corn a potential advantage in both price and end use. However, there remains some sustained, though limited, demand for sorghum globally and U.S. sorghum is poised to capture most of this demand as competitors Australia and Argentina have limited presence in the 2019/20 market.

Mexico’s Corn Flour Exports Offset Reduced Corn Grain Exports

For the past few years, Mexico’s decline in corn exports has been offset by its growth in corn flour exports. Mexico is the ninth-largest producer of corn in the world and primarily produces and exports white corn, widely prized for food around the world. Although exports have sharply declined over the period, its export markets are diversified among neighboring countries, Europe, and Africa.

Except for 2015/16 and 2016/17, Venezuela has been a key destination, accounting for more than half of Mexico corn exports.2 However, Venezuela’s restrictive policies on foreign exchange, food imports, and food distribution have dampened import prospects.

In contrast, Mexico’s corn flour (commonly known as masa, HS 110220) exports have trended up over the same period with the United States as the top destination. Accounting for over half of Mexican corn flour exports in 2019, U.S. consumer demand for Mexican-style corn products continues to grow, reflecting the diverse population and the popularity of ethnic foods in general.

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