The 10 largest corn importers in the world

China displaced Mexico from the first position in the classification of the largest corn importers in the world in 2021, according to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

While the respective purchases from China were 7,582 million dollars (+204, year-on-year), those from Mexico totaled 5,124 million (+66 percent).

Corn prices rose 20% in the first quarter of 2022 (q/t) to hit $335/tonne in March, beating their July 2012 record by a small margin.

The World Bank said the increase reflects uncertainties in world grain markets due to the war in Ukraine: the country accounts for 3.5% of world corn production.

By contrast, growing conditions in the northern hemisphere, particularly in India and Mexico, are favorable and planting in China and the United States has started as expected.

There are some yield reductions in the southern hemisphere, especially in Argentina and Brazil as a result of La Niña.

Globally, corn production is expected to grow 7.5% this season over the 2020-21 season, while the World Bank projects consumption to rise 3.4%.

Corn importers

Most of the substitution of food products takes place on the input side, since different crops can be grown with almost the same inputs of land, labour, machinery and fertilizers.

This flexibility allows for changes in cropping patterns from season to season, which in turn prevents sustained price differences between commodities.

For example, the price spikes of the 1970s and 2000s were primarily focused on one commodity and later spread to the prices of other crops.

In fact, despite the huge increase in demand for corn and edible oil due to biofuels and animal feed during the last two decades, the prices of these products moved along with other grains and oilseeds.

For example, world demand for maize doubled during 2000-20, compared to a 26-28% increase in world demand for rice and wheat (in line with world population growth of 27% during this period).

Other major corn importers in 2021 were: Japan ($4.741 million, +44%), South Korea ($3.224 million, +36%), and Egypt ($2.411 million, +28 percent).

Then, in descending order, Vietnam, Spain, Colombia, the Netherlands and Iran stood out.

 

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