Brazil displaces the US as the world's largest exporter of corn.
According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Brazil has emerged as the world’s leading corn exporter in the harvest year that concluded in August 2023, overtaking the former longstanding leader, the United States.
With a total of 56 million tons of corn, the South American giant accounted for 32% of global corn exports for the year. In contrast, the United States, the longstanding leader in the corn market for over a century, represented approximately 23%, boasting 41.3 million tons of corn.
The last time Brazil surpassed the US for corn exports in a given year was in 2013, when the US faced a severe drought that led to a timely yet severe cut in production. However, this time around, the trend appears to be not a one-off but an actual change in market dynamics, according to specialists.
“The long-term trend is that Brazil is increasing its corn production, becoming a much more dominant player,” says Frayne Olson, an agricultural economist at North Dakota State University.
“Despite the record, Brazil still has the capacity to increase its production further. There is still a lot of available land for cultivation, and we can improve our productivity levels,” agrees Enori Barbieri, Vice President of the Brazilian Association of Corn Producers.
Several factors have helped the South American giant scale its corn production and pricing.
First, China, the largest purchaser of US corn, is actively seeking to broaden its sources of grain suppliers. With improving logistics in Brazil, particularly in the Northern region, export routes between the South American and Asian countries have been growing increasingly cheaper.
Moreover, the United States is allocating a larger share of its corn production towards the manufacture of biofuels and the extraction of bran and vegetable oils, thus lowering its export offering.
The milestone comes as Brazil takes significant steps toward becoming the world’s largest breadbasket country by filling the gaps left by the war in Ukraine and growing US-China tensions in the global food trade.
The country is already the largest exporter of soy, cattle and coffee, and looks to dominate other commodity markets.
In 2023, Brazil has also displaced Argentina as the world’s largest soybean bran exporter, further cementing its position in the animal-feed market.