Black Sea corn reaps the rewards of US, South America export woes

Asian feed importers have returned to the market to restock corn volumes, with South Korean buyers securing a total of 539,000...

Asian feed importers have returned to the market to restock corn volumes, with South Korean buyers securing a total of 539,000 mt of corn, while Vietnamese importers booked around 100,000 mt in recent days as end users in the two major importers look to lock up outstanding 2021 supply.

But, with South American exporters approaching the end of their export season and US exporters facing challenges at both main export hubs – the US Gulf and the Pacific Northwest – Ukraine and the Black Sea could be in line to capitalise. 

Both Asian countries have secured corn cargoes for execution in October-November and delivery into destination ports in December.

Cargoes were traded with an optional origin, meaning the sellers have an option of sourcing the goods from the most competitive country of origin, but the uncertainty around supply from the US, Argentina and Brazil means corn is very likely to be sourced from Ukraine.

“As the sellers originate from all important origins, so [they] will choose the most economical at the time, South Korea is a major destination for Ukraine, so they can load from there,” one trader told Agricensus.

“They’re just buying on an optional (origin basis)… it will be Black Sea execution,” a second trade source, based in Asia, told Agricensus

The Agricensus Export Dashboard shows Ukrainian exporters shipped 1.32 million mt of corn to South Korea in the 2020 calendar year, but to date only 52,118 mt has made the journey in 2021.

According to the market sources, offers for a panamax of Ukrainian corn cargoes were heard at $266/mt FOB for loading in October, compared to levels closer to $270/mt for Brazil FOB Santos loading, or $273.50/mt for FOB US Gulf, according to Agricensus data.

South Korean importers booked corn at the average price of $328.84/mt CFR, while no specific price levels were available for Vietnamese buying.

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