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Brazil to Catch U.S. as Top Corn Exporter, Says Agroconsult

Brazilian corn exports tripled in the past decade.

WASHINGTON - Just as Brazil surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest soybean exporter, it will match or beat America as the No. 1 corn exporter in the near to medium term, said the head of a Brazilian consultancy on Friday.
Andre Pessoa, president of Agroconsult, forecast Brazilian corn exports of 60 million tonnes in 2027/28, roughly double the current volume of 35 million tonnes. USDA’s long-term baseline pegs U.S. soybean exports of 55.9 million tonnes at that point. While USDA expects a sizable increase in corn exports by Brazil, it says the South American agricultural giant will export 44.8 million tonnes of corn in 2027/28, so the U.S. would remain the largest exporter by a large margin and Brazil will remain No. 2.
During a panel discussion at USDA’s annual Outlook Forum, Pessoa reminded listeners of forecasts in the early 2000s, later proven true, of Brazil as the top soy exporter. “We are going to do the same or much the same amount of corn in the future,” he said, because of so-called second crop corn, planted in the Center West states. “It means we are going to double our corn exports in 10 years.”
Second-crop corn, planted immediately after soybeans are harvested, is taking a larger share of Brazil’s overall corn production. It is grown in a region that is closer to northern export terminals than to the country’s livestock sector, so it is available for sale to overseas buyers at a time when ports are not clogged by the soybean harvest.

Pessoa said yields are rising on second crop corn and production costs are falling, so Brazilian corn is becoming more cost-competitive with U.S. corn. Growers see second-crop corn as a way to optimize equipment and labor costs and as rotational crop that helps control pest and disease risks.

Brazilian corn exports tripled in the past decade, said USDA analysts in the 10-year baseline. “The export increase reflects greater corn area and yields, improved export infrastructure, and moderately increasing world prices.” Brazil now grows 95 million tonnes of corn, and USDA projects production of 130 million tonnes in 2027/18.

“Brazil’s corn production has risen rapidly over the past 15 years. The country has evolved into one the world’s leading corn producers, the second-largest exporter, and a competitor of the United States,” said USDA in a five-page discussion of the country’s economic condition and its agricultural sector. “Brazil’s corn production has risen in response to new high-yielding varieties, the introduction of GMO corn, a shift of corn production to higher yielding frontier producing regions of the country, the country’s climatic ability to produce two crops in the same year, and some government support. Production expansion has exceeded the rate of increase in domestic consumer demand, leaving surplus production for more exports.”

The U.S. is projected to control 36% of the world corn market in 2018/19, falling to 30% in 2027/28 as corn production – and trade – expand worldwide.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

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