Bartlett Milling invests in capacity expansion as foreign demand fuel rise in US corn and sorghum exports

US – Bartlett Milling has announced plans to invest as much as US$28 million to expand and upgrade its mill operations in Wilson’s Mills, North Carolina to better serve its customers in North and South Carolina.

Bartlett Milling produces a full line of commercial patent flours for bakeries, restaurants, and institutional foodservice operations such as schools and hospitals.

We are excited about expanding our operations to better serve our customers in North and South Carolina,” said Bob Knief, president of Bartlett, a Kansas City, Missouri, US-based company that is part of Savage Enterprises.

“This new production line will primarily process soft wheat, creating increased opportunities for area farmers to market their soft wheat crop.”

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US Corn, Sorghum exports surge

Meanwhile, strong foreign demand and reduced competition have sharply boosted exports to record levels, according to recent GAIN reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

According to USDA, US exported 62 million tons of corn in the current Market Year, a million metric tons shy of the 2017/18 MY record of 63.7 million tons, valued at $11.6 billion.

Corn export for the first 7 months (Oct 2020 -Apr 2021) were robust partly due to reduced competition from Ukraine, a key supplier to Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East and improved demand from China.

USDA projects that a smaller harvest in Argentina, combined with unfavorable weather in several second-crop corn producing states in Brazil, is expected to support U.S. exports during the second half (Apr-Sep) of 2020/21.

Exports are currently forecast at 73.0 million tons (estimated value of $17.9 billion), which if realized, would be the largest in history.

The project is however overly ambitious as US exports to the world are projected to decline from the current 62.0 million tons, due to higher competition from other exporters.

Ukraine and Russia are for instance expected to boost their exports in the first half of 2021/22, dampening the U.S. share of global trade.

In addition, relatively high prices in local currencies are expected to support expansion in corn area in Argentina and Brazil during late 2021 and into early 2022.

U.S. hopes are now on China where demand is expected to remain strong although USDA highlights that at the moment, it’s unclear why China is making such large purchases before the crop is fully planted.

US sorghum exports are also projected to reach near record levels fueled by heightened demand from China.

USDA projects that for 2020/21 (Oct-Sep), U.S. exports will stand at 7.8 million tons (estimated value of $2.4 billion), which if realized, this would be the largest level since 2015/16.

The projections are heavily reliant on China which is currently the top destination of US sorghum, accounting for 95% of exports during the first 7 months (Oct-Apr) of 2020/21.

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