China’s corn imports from Ukraine jump 64% year-on-year

Despite the latest conflict and subsequent cut-off of exports from Black Sea ports, Chinese imports from Ukraine increased significantly in March

China’s corn imports from Ukraine in March jumped 63.9% year-on-year, while volumes purchased from the US remained stable, data from the General Administration of Customs (CGAC) showed on Wednesday.

China - the world’s top corn importer - brought in around 1.36 million tonnes of corn from Ukraine last month - a significant gain from 914,083 imported in February and 827,133 tonnes recorded in the same month in 2021.

The increase came despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February and the subsequent cut-off of grain exports from Black Sea ports.

“It generally takes 20 - 30 days to ship Ukraine’s corn to China… (The cargoes, which) arrived in March should have sailed before the start of the war,” a China-based analyst told Fastmarkets Agriculture.

This is in addition to 1.5 million tonnes that have left Ukraine in February before the invasion, while currently only one cargo was seen stuck in Chernomorsk with 68,000 tonnes on board.

While Ukraine is still able to export corn via rail, trucks and vessels from shallow water Reni and Ismail ports, the only possible way to send Ukrainian corn to China is through European ports, for example Romanian Constanta or Bulgarian Burgas or Varna.

However this requires more time and comes at a higher cost, as such amounts are usually loaded aboard Panamax vessels.

Meanwhile, corn imports from the US in March 2022 amounted to 1.04 million tonnes, only slightly lower than 1.08 million tonnes bought a year earlier, according to customs data.

However, China has snapped up large volumes of US corn in April in an effort to stabilize its domestic supply and hedge risks of further surging prices in the international market.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its flash sales notices earlier this month with a total of 2.1 million tonnes of corn for delivery to China, of which nearly 1.4 million tonnes was for 2021/22 and 748,000 tonnes for the next marketing year.

China’s corn imports from Myanmar in March surged from levels a year earlier, as Beijing looked to diversify its grain import sources and have allowed imports of the yellow grain from the Southeast Asian country since Febuary of this year.

Volumes imported from Myanmar came in at 16,408 tonnes in March, up 640% from 2,530 tonnes recorded a year earlier but some 15% lower than 19,214 tonnes purchased in the previous month.

China’s total corn imports in March 2022 reached 2.41 million tonnes, up 25% from a month earlier and compared with the same period of last year.

Keep up to date with the corn market and trends shaping the agricultural landscape, visit our dedicated corn market page.

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