Japan has rapidly increased corn imports from the European region of the Black Sea, to substitute record-expensive grain from the United States.
Japan has doubled corn orders from Europe, from countries like Ukraine, Romania and Hungary, to 1.5 million metric tons during the November-March period. The rising trend may continue unless Argentina and Brazil, who are traditional competitors with the U.S. for corn exports to Japan, will decrease prices.
Japan is the world largest corn importer and brought last year about 90 percent of its importing needs from the United States. As the U.S. crop was hurt last year by drought, prices went up to a record high and Japan had to consider changing its importing source.
“European shippers offered corn to Japanese buyers at prices more than $20 a ton cheaper than the U.S. They are taking advantage of depreciating currencies against the U.S. dollar,” explained Kazuhiko Saito, an analyst at commodity broker Fujitomi Co in Tokyo.