Dec 09, 2021

Brazil Importing and Exporting Corn at the Same Time

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The corn market in Brazil is in a strange juxtaposition. Brazil is exporting corn and importing corn at the same time. This is all the result of the disastrous 2020/21 safrinha corn crop that was severely impacted by late planting, drought, and frosts. The safrinha corn crop generally accounts for about three-quarters of Brazil's total corn production.

Corn exporters had already made export commitments in early 2021 before the full extent of the damage to the safrinha corn was evident. Once the damage to the safrinha crop was known, some exporters decided to cancel their export contracts, pay the penalty, and sell the corn to the domestic market at much higher prices than the export market.

At the same time, large livestock operations in southern Brazil realized that they needed to quickly import corn from neighboring Argentina and Paraguay in order to keep their operations functioning. So now, Brazil is exporting and importing corn at the same time.

From January through October, Brazil exported 14.6 million tons of corn, which was down 41.2% compared to a year earlier according to the Foreign Trade Secretariat (SECEX). In 2020, Brazil exported over 30 million tons of corn.

SECEX also reported that from January through November, Brazil imported 2.74 million tons of corn which was up 145% compared to the same period in 2020. During November, Brazil imported 621,376 tons of corn and the rapid import pace continued into early December. During the first three days of December, Brazil's corn imports have averaged 15,470 tons per day. If the import pace continues through the end of December, Brazil could end 2021 with between 3.0 to 3.5 million tons of corn imports.

Tight domestic corn supplies in Brazil have kept corn prices well supported and encouraged farmers to increase their 2021/22 corn acreage both for the first corn crop that is currently in the field and the safrinha corn crop which will be planted in January and February.