The Corn Marketing Program of Michigan and the Michigan Corn Growers Association both work in partnership with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to expand trade of corn, ethanol and DDGS across the world. USGC recently released its 2019 Annual Report, which outlines some of the key successes we’ve had over the past year. We’re highlighting a few of those programs here. Visit grains.org/2019-annual-report for more!
Latin American Boot Camps Empower Grain Buyers
The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) conducted intensive workshops in Central America in 2019 on grain contracting and risk management as part of work to develop more effective buyers of U.S. corn in the growing region.
The first workshop series in May 2019 focused on the specific contracts used for trading coarse grains and co-products. The boot camps took place in San Salvador, El Salvador; Panama City, Panama; Bogota, Colombia; and Medellin, Colombia. Overall, 130 importers and end-users from 13 countries participated.
These boot camps were well-timed to address delays Latin American importers experienced in 2019. Some customers brought copies of their current international grain contracts to discuss issues or problems as well as to discover missed opportunities.
A second workshop in Panama in September 2019 tackled the topic of risk management to help grain buyers better grasp hedging strategies and fundamentals affecting the price of U.S. corn. The boot camp included 23 participants from South America and 35 participants from Central America, representing 10 countries in total. They hailed from some of the most relevant players in the feed, poultry and livestock industries in Latin America – both buyers and high-level management and financial officials.
The group was participative, and some approached Council staff at the end of the session to request additional information about implementing the hedging practices discussed in their companies.
Central America is a growing region for U.S. corn exports, thanks to geographic proximity and the access provided by the Dominican Republic-Central America FTA (CAFTA-DR). U.S. corn exports to CAFTA-DR countries have increased more than three-fold since the agreement went into effect in 2006.
In the 2018/2019 marketing year, Guatemala purchased more than one million metric tons (39.4 bushels) of U.S. corn, ranking as the eighth-largest buyer and representing a 70 percent increase since CAFTA-DR entered into force. Exports of U.S. corn to Costa Rica and El Salvador have also increased substantially during the same time period – up 55 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
MEASA Buyers Conference Spurs Sales
More than 100 of the largest grain and feedstock importers from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South Asia convened for a U.S. Grains Council (UGSC) Buyers’ Conference in Athens, Greece in June 2019. The conference resulted in 538,000 metric tons in sales of U.S. corn and co-products, sorghum and barley.
Ten expert speakers and 10 export-capable agribusinesses participated in the program, offering presentations on topics ranging from the economic advantages of importing feed grains to the nutritional benefits of U.S. dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) and sorghum.
Attendees also participated in one-on-one consultations on the last day of the conference. Expert nutritional and technical consultants delivered clear, well-researched information and suggestions to end-users, providing the tools necessary to make informed decisions on DDGS and sorghum use in processing feed.
The conference allowed time not only to answer this array of questions, but also for networking between U.S. sellers and overseas buyers. These face-to-face interactions are a critical component of the Council’s work to promote U.S. coarse grains and related products.
The Athens conference followed a similar buyers’ conference in 2017. These regional buyers’ conferences are part of the Council’s work to maximize the U.S. competitive advantage, develop strong ties to industry and facilitate opportunities to make or negotiate sales.
In 2019, the Council used Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) funds to expand the scope of the program by inviting more than 20 participants from South Asia and Africa to the conference to lay the foundation for future sales to these regions.
In a survey after the event, attendees reported conducting business over the five-day period with volumes topping 540,000 metric tons. Buyers reported contracting 488,500 metric tons (19.2 million bushels) of corn and corn co-products, 45,5000 tons (2.09 million bushels) of sorghum and 6,000 tons (276,000 bushels) of barley.
Overall, the sales, valued at more than $110 million, yielded a return on investment of more than $231 per $1 of USDA Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD) and ATP funds invested to execute this conference.