US corn export shipments up 38% on week at 2.199 million mt, a marketing-year high: USDA

Source: By S&P Global • Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2021

Houston — US weekly corn export shipments of corn for the 2020-21 marketing year (September-August) totaled 2.199 million mt in the week ended March 11, up 38% from 1.593 million mt in the previous week, Department of Agriculture data showed March 18.

The weekly export shipments for the 2020-21 marketing year were up 42% from the prior four-week average, and were a marketing-year high, the USDA said in its Exports Sales Highlights report.

Despite the strong corn export shipment program, market participants are concerned about the large amount of unshipped export sales, particularly on the amount marked to China.

Outstanding export sales of US corn — product sold, but not yet shipped — for the current marketing year totaled 30.543 million mt, 138% above the year-ago level and 88% above the five-year average, the USDA said.

China’s outstanding export sales for the current marketing year were at 11.595 million mt, 38% of the total outstanding sales for all destinations.

China has bought 19.363 million mt of US corn, and just 7.768 million mt, 66%, had been shipped by March 11. This does not consider the 4.627 million mt of US corn sold for export to unknown destinations, most of which market participants expect will end up in China.

US net export sales of corn for the 2020-21 marketing year (September-August) totaled 985,890 mt in the week ended March 11, up 149% from 395,506 mt in the previous week, according to Department of Agriculture data released March 18.

Market expectations for net export sales were between 300,000 mt and 750,000 mt for the current marketing year, sources said.

So far in the 2020-21 marketing year that began Sept. 1, total commitments — cumulative exports plus outstanding sales — have reached 60.505 million mt, up 109% year on year and 59% above the five-year average.

The outright price for S&P Global Platts corn CIF New Orleans in barges, for current-month shipment, dropped 8.5 cents week on week to $6.1650/bushel on March 11, following CBOT March corn futures 7 cents lower week on week to $5.55/bu.

The Platts corn CIF New Orleans basis in barges, for current-month shipment, was 1.5 cents lower week on week at 78 cents/bu above the CBOT March (H) contract.

The top buyers in the current marketing year include China at 19.363 million mt, Mexico at 12.428 million mt, Japan at 8.563 million mt, Colombia at 2.856 million mt, and South Korea at 1.928 million mt, the data showed.

The top corn buyers in the most recent week for deliveries in 2020-21 include China with 624,847 mt, Mexico with 285,469 mt, Colombia with 208,506, and South Korea with 168,154 mt.

Since the start of the marketing year, 4.627 million mt of US corn has been committed for unknown destinations, including this week’s cancelations, or switched to known destinations, for the previous export sales of 1.038 million mt, USDA data showed.

Net sales are considered a more appropriate indicator of the strength of the corn market than physical exports as they reflect new sales.

Outstanding export sales are considered an indicator of the strength of the New Orleans CIF barge corn market.

Of total estimated US corn production for 2020-21, 18% is projected to be exported, and US corn total exports are estimated to be 35% of the total corn exported in the world.

Corn is the primary feedstock for ethanol production in the US and the main competitor for dried distillers grains in feed rations.

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