Argentina surprises with fresh corn fixture bound for South Africa

Line-up data for Argentina’s ports shows a fixture of corn destined to travel to South Africa in the first such bulk move in just over...

Line-up data for Argentina’s ports shows a fixture of corn destined to travel to South Africa in the first such bulk move in just over a year.

The vessel, the Mandarin Grace, is expected to co-load 16,000 mt of corn from San Lorenzo on April 13, alongside 38,000 mt of soymeal and – if the data is correct – would be the first bulk cargo to arrive since the week ending March 27, 2020.

The vessel has been chartered by Seaboard, according to the data, and comes as South Africa approaches the end of its marketing year and just weeks after slim container volumes of yellow corn arrived from Ukraine.

Data from the South African Grain Information Service shows 463 mt of corn arrived from the Black Sea exporter in the week ending February 19 this year, but most imports into the country have slowed after South Africa produced one of the biggest corn crops in its recent history.

With the local marketing year set to conclude at the end of April, data so far shows just over 1 million mt of white corn has been exported this year, along with 1.3 million mt of yellow corn, which makes it one of the busiest exporting seasons on record.

South Korea has been the biggest beneficiary, with 363,625 mt of corn delivered from South Africa with Taiwan securing another 323,189 mt.

For food grade white corn, most of the volume has been exported to surrounding countries, with Zimbabwe the biggest single recipient after it imported 349,271 mt.

Trade sources felt that the Argentine cargo is most likely a hangover booked at an earlier stage when the potential outcome of South Africa’s production was less clear, and was timed to arrive just as Argentinian production gears up and as South Africa’s supply is exhausted.

The country is expected to embark on a second consecutive major export programme in the new marketing year, with the USDA forecasting production of 17 million mt and exports of 3.2 million mt, up 7.3% and 23% year-on-year respectively.

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