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U.S. loses more exports

11/28/2012 @ 7:23am

Japan's imports of feed-grade corn from Brazil will likely rise almost five-fold to 3 million metric tons in the current financial year that ends March 31, a senior Zen-Noh trading executive said Wednesday.

This would lead to Brazil's share in Japan's feed corn imports for 2012-13 rising to 30% from 6% a year earlier, and would see the U.S. share decline to 57% from 86%, Shinji Katsukawa, a corn and sorghum trader in Zen-Noh said at a grains conference here.

Zen-Noh is Japan's National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations. It produces close to 7.2 million metric tons, or 30% of the country's output of animal feed in its 22 mills, Mr Katsukawa said. It handles around 4.3 million tons of corn, including 3.53 million tons for feed annually, he said.

Traditionally, Japan has imported 95% or more of its feed corn requirements from the U.S. but the share declined to 93% in 2009-10 and 88% in 2010-11, Mr Katsukawa said.

But due to a sharp fall in U.S. corn output this year amid a devastating drought and a bumper crop in Brazil that led to cheaper availability, importers have shifted their source of purchase.

"Brazil's corn is a little harder and smaller. It is a little hard to make flake corn for animal feed but its imports [in Japan] are rising," he said.

Mr. Katsukawa said the volume of Japan's feed corn imports from U.S. is expected to decline 36% in 2012-13 to 5.7 million tons from 8.9 million tons.

According to Japan's government data, feed corn imports from the U.S. fell 30% on year during the six months through September to 3.38 million tons.

Japan's feed wheat imports will likely more than double to above 1 million tons in this financial year but such high levels may not last through 2013-14 because of the rising prices, Mr. Katsukawa said.

As Japan continues seeing rising corn prices, the share of corn in Japan's animal feed has declined to 43% during April-August this year from 45% in the 2011-12 financial year and 47% in 2010-11, he said.

The share of wheat in the animal feed complex has doubled to 4% during April-August this year from 2% in 2011-12 and 1% in 2010-11, he added.

But even with the changes in the share of feed wheat and feed corn and the countries of origin for supplies in Japan's overall grain imports, the country's compound animal feed annual output is almost unchanged at around 24 million tons despite a devastating earthquake and tsunami last year, Mr. Katsukawa said.

Mr. Katsukawa said Zen-Noh also handles around 733,000 tons of soybeans, 1.4 million tons of wheat and 678,000 tons of barley in Japan.

Write to Sameer C. Mohindru at sameer.mohindru@dowjones.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 28, 2012 06:15 ET (11:15 GMT)

DJ Japans 30% Feed Corn Imports in 2012-13 Likely From Brazil - Zen-Noh Executive->copyright

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