The Rise of Corn Exports from the USA: A Look at the Major Players
The United States is a major producer and exporter of corn. In fact, it accounts for nearly 40% of total global corn exports. This article takes an in-depth look at the leading corn exporters in the USA and examines trends in the corn export market.
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A Golden Era for Corn Exporters
Over the past decade, corn exports from the USA have absolutely boomed. Total corn exports rose from just 46.4 million metric tons in 2009/2010 to 66.2 million metric tons in 2019/2020. This represents an incredible 42.7% increase over a 10-year period.
Several key factors have driven this rapid growth. Firstly, increased ethanol production has significantly boosted domestic demand for corn. Secondly, growing populations and rising incomes in emerging markets such as China have increased the demand for corn as livestock feed. Lastly, consecutive years of favorable weather conditions in the U.S. corn belt have led to bumper harvests.
The top 5 corn exporters have capitalized on these trends to grow their global market share. So exactly who are the major players when it comes to corn exports from the USA?
Cargill – The Agri-business Giant
Cargill is the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue. The company has major interests across the agricultural supply chain, from grain trading to meat production.
In 2019/2020, Cargill exported over 15.1 million metric tons of corn, accounting for nearly 23% of total U.S. corn exports. The company sources corn from across the Midwest through its vast network of grain elevators and transfer stations. Cargill has made major investments in ports and logistics infrastructure to support its leading export operation.
The agribusiness giant exports corn to buyers in Japan, Mexico, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It’s global trading expertise and extensive customer base contribute to its position as the top U.S. corn exporter.
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) – A Major Player
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is another agribusiness powerhouse with significant interests across the agricultural supply chain. The Chicago-based company operates over 270 plants and 420 crop procurement facilities worldwide.
In 2019/2020, ADM exported 12.7 million metric tons of corn from the USA – the 2nd highest volume behind Cargill. The company sources much of its corn from farmers in Illinois, Iowa and other major producing states. ADM owns an extensive network of elevators, storage facilities and transportation assets to support its large export program.
ADM exports corn to important markets like Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Colombia and Vietnam. The company is focused on expanding in emerging feed markets such as Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia where rising populations and incomes are driving demand growth.
Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) – Major Global Presence
The Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) is a global merchant firm involved in the trading of agricultural and energy commodities. The company is one of the “ABCD” quartet of major grain trading giants, along with ADM, Bunge and Cargill.
In 2019/2020, LDC exported over 7.5 million metric tons of corn from the United States, making it the 3rd largest U.S. corn exporter. The company sources corn from producers across the Midwest and operates major export facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
LDC exports corn to purchasers located in the Middle East, North Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Europe. It leverages its extensive global footprint and strong customer relationships to market U.S. corn internationally. The firm is focused on expanding its corn export volumes to rapidly growing markets.
Bunge – Global Leader in Oilseeds and Grains
Bunge Limited is a global agribusiness and food company with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. It has four major divisions: agribusiness, edible oil products, milling products and sugar & bioenergy.
In 2019/2020, Bunge ranked 4th among U.S. corn exporters, shipping approximately 5 million metric tons abroad. The company operates grain elevators, terminals and barge loading facilities in the U.S. to support its export activities.
Bunge markets corn to buyers in the Middle East, North Africa, Mexico, Europe and Southeast Asia. It utilizes a global logistics network spanning over 40 countries to reach customers worldwide. Bunge is focused on leveraging technology to improve efficiency across its trading and logistics operations.
Marubeni Corporation – Major Japanese Trading House
Marubeni Corporation is a major Japanese trading company (sogo shosha) with diverse business interests across the agriculture, energy, metals, machinery and transportation sectors. The company operates an extensive grain trading and export operation in the United States.
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In 2019/2020, Marubeni exported around 2.8 million metric tons of corn from the USA, making it the 5th largest exporter. The company sources corn supplies from major producing states like Illinois and Nebraska where it operates grain elevators and storage facilities.
The trading house primarily exports corn to Japan where it supplies major feed grain buyers. Marubeni also exports smaller corn volumes to select markets such as South Korea and Taiwan. It leverages its dominant position in Japan to market U.S. corn abroad.
Trends and Outlook for U.S. Corn Exports
In this article, we have profiled the top 5 exporters that dominate the flow of U.S. corn abroad. A few key trends are shaping the corn export landscape:
- Exports becoming increasingly concentrated in the top players. The share of total U.S. corn exports handled by the top 5 companies reached 65% in 2019/2020. This highlights the market power of Cargill, ADM, LDC, Bunge and Marubeni.
- Booming demand in emerging Asian markets. Countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia are rapidly expanding as growth markets for U.S. corn exporters given rising incomes and increased meat consumption.
- Growing importance of Mexico and Central America. Proximity and free trade access under USMCA makes countries like Mexico the #3 destination for U.S. corn exports after Japan and China.
Looking ahead, U.S. corn exports are projected to increase 19% over the next decade and hit 94 million tons by 2029/30. The major grain trading giants detailed in this article will continue to play an integral role handling these huge future export volumes.
Booming Global Demands Drives Growth for U.S. Corn Exporters
Over the past decade, global demand for U.S. corn exports has risen rapidly. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, total corn exports from the U.S. increased from 46.4 million metric tons in 2009/10 to 66.2 million metric tons in 2019/20. This represent a incredible 43% increase in just 10 years.
Several factors has driven this growth. Firstly, increased ethanol production and livestock farming in the U.S. has boosted domestic demands for corn. Secondly, rising populations and incomes in emerging markets like China and Southeast Asia has increased demand for corn as animal feed. Growing demands in Mexico, Korea, Colombia and Venezuela has also contributed growth.
Outlook Remains Strong for U.S. Corn Exports
The future outlook for U.S. corn exports remains very positive. According to projections from the USDA, U.S. corn exports is expected to reach 94 million metric tons by 2029/30. This represents a 42% increase from current export volumes over the next decade.
Driving this continued growth will be rising demands in emerging markets. Countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam is seeing booming demands for corn to feed growing livestock industry. U.S. corn exports to China is also project to double over the next 10 years. Major corn exporters like Cargill and ADM is positioned to benefit from this trend.
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