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U.S. corn, Brazil, steal thunder of U.S. soy exports in October

October is usually the busiest month for U.S. soybean shippers, but this year corn exports outpaced those of soybeans during the month for the first time since 2007.

China’s shunning of U.S. soybeans amid the ongoing trade war between the two countries left a gaping wound on October shipments of the oilseed, opening the door for top exporter Brazil to steal business that traditionally belonged to the United States.

That corn total, equivalent to 224 million bushels, is the second-largest October volume on record, behind 1980. The top two destinations were Mexico and Japan, with 1.8 million and 1.1 million tonnes, respectively.

Total October corn exports were up 109 percent from a year ago, but the total value of the exported product was up 124 percent on the year, reaching $1 billion for the first time ever during the month of October.

After September and October, the first two months of the 2018-19 marketing year, U.S. corn shipments totaled 10.95 million tonnes, which accounts for 18 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual target. At the same point last year, only 13 percent of the projected yearly volume had been shipped.

EMBATTLED SOYBEANS

Last year, some 7.1 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans departed for top buyer China during October, which accounted for 74 percent of the month’s total shipments.

This October, a paltry 271,973 tonnes sailed to China, making it the ninth most-popular bean destination for the month. Argentina stole the top spot with 566,272 tonnes, and Mexico and the Netherlands rounded out the top three (graphic).

The month’s exports of 5.58 million tonnes (205 million bushels) was 41 percent lighter than a year ago and the smallest soybean volume shipped during October since 2011. The total value of the soybean shipments was down 48 percent on the year to $1.93 billion.

During the first two months of 2018-19, U.S. soybean exports totaled 8.8 million tonnes or 17 percent of USDA’s annual forecast. Last year, September and October shipments accounted for about 23 percent of the yearly volume USDA was projecting at the time.

With China out of the U.S. market, Brazil’s record-large soybean crop harvested earlier this year has been helping to fill that void, and the numbers are staggering. In October, Brazil shipped 5.35 million tonnes of soybeans, doubling the month’s record set in 2015

In October 2017, U.S. and Brazilian soybean exports combined for a total of 11.93 million tonnes, and the United States accounted for 79 percent of that. The October 2018 volume slipped to 11.23 million tonnes, but the United States barely edged Brazil with a 52 percent share of the total.

Brazil’s encroachment on U.S. soybean territory was even worse in November. According to Brazil’sAgriculture Ministry, the country shipped 5.07 million tonnes of beans that month, demolishing November 2017’s record of 2.14 million.

Although it is not an exact measure of official shipments, weekly port inspection data implies that U.S. soybean exports may have fallen short of 5 million tonnes in November, meaning Brazil might have outdone its U.S. counterpart last month.

Through November, Brazil had shipped 79.6 million tonnes of soybeans this calendar year, which is pretty close to the maximum possible given the crop size and expected crushing demand. However, as of Nov. 30, shipping agency Williams showed some 2.23 million tonnes of soybeans in the lineup with December sail dates. The record December volume is 2.36 million, set last year.

OTHER NOTABLES

The 2018-19 U.S. wheat shipping campaign that began June 1 has been notoriously sluggish relative to market expectations. But October’s exports of 1.9 million tonnes or 70 million bushels was the best performance for the month in five years

The top three U.S. wheat destinations for the month – Mexico, the Philippines and Japan – all tallied more than 200,000 tonnes, and Iraq came in as the fourth most-popular target.

But June through October wheat shipments were down 20 percent on the year, and that five-month total of 9.1 million tonnes accounts for only a third of USDA’s full-year peg.

Both ethanol and soybean meal notched record October volumes this year. The month’s ethanol exports reached 664 million liters (175 million gallons), and total 2018 shipments through the first 10 months were up 29 percent over last year’s high.

Soybean meal exports hit 997,967 tonnes in October, some 18 percent larger than the previous high for the month set in 2016.

China has also been a huge buyer of U.S. sorghum in recent years, but not so much lately given the trade dispute between the two countries.

September and October sorghum shipments totaled just 176,824 tonnes. In records back to 2012, the previous low for the period was last year with 491,390 tonnes.
Source: Reuters (Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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