USA – The United States exports of feed grains and co-products for the 2017/2018 marketing year reached 120 million metric tonnes led by higher corn shipments, setting a new record for the second year in a row.

According to the U.S. Grains Council, the year’s exports increased 6% (6.5 million tons) above last year’s record, representing a third of US production.

US corn exports increased 6% to 61.8 million tons, Mexico leading the rank with 14% increase to reach a record high of 15.7 million tons.

The report revealed that the year’s sales continue to grow despite underlying challenges surrounding the negotiation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Exports are boosted by well-developed North American supply chains, robust market development as well as market access provided by the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“For U.S. grain producers, our 2017/2018 export performance was outstanding and above recently revised expectations due to particularly strong shipments in the second half of the marketing year,” said Mike Dwyer, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) chief economist.

“U.S. agricultural producers saw international demand for their products – in one form or another continue to rise.

This export growth is vital to our feed grain producers who continue to see their yields and overall production rise amidst challenging trade policy conditions.”

Mexico topped the market in grain imports with a new record of 25.2 million tons, a 6.3% year-over-year growth attributed to higher corn, barley and dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) sales.

With 16.9 million tons imports, Japan ranked as the second largest buyer of U.S. corn and U.S. sorghum, the third largest buyer of U.S. barley and the ninth largest market for U.S. DDGS.

South Korea rounded out the top three overall importers, increasing purchases of U.S. feed grains and co-products by 11.8 percent to 9.33 million tons, a new record high.

A slow China

U.S. DDGS exports grew 5.7% with increased purchasing by Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam while a steady decline was witnessed in Chinese purchasing since 2013/14.

This could be attributed to continued trade policy challenges including tariffs on US sorghum.

However, China remained the top buyer of U.S. sorghum with 4.2 million tons (165 million bushels) in sales in 2017/2018, largely sold before tariffs were enacted that continue to inhibit purchasing.

Sorghum exports dropped 14% to 5.16 million tons despite several smaller markets increasing purchases, Japan, Sudan, the European Union (led by Spain), Somalia and South Korea.

Barley exports remained roughly unchanged over the last three marketing years with nearly 550,000 tons, with Mexico dominating purchasing at 394,000 tons.