News & Events
In only their third year, the U.S. Grains Council's dual corn quality reports -- the first measuring quality at harvest; the second, at export -- have become key reference points for foreign buyers and end-users in key markets around the world. This week, Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade, shared the Export Cargo Quality Report with appreciative audiences in Japan and Taiwan.
Questioning was vigorous, as buyers acknowledged the generally satisfactory quality of the U.S. crop but honed in on differences between the 2012 and 2013 crops, as well as qualitative changes due to handling since harvest.
The apparent lack of significant progress between the United States and Japan to resolve market access issues on agriculture products and automobiles is raising some concerns about the prospects of completing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations ahead of the U.S. elections in November.
In an important win for U.S. barley producers, Japan has indicated that in the next year it will allow heart healthy labeling of food products containing high beta-glucan barley. U.S. research findings have documented heart-healthy attributes of high beta-glucan barley -- such as reduced cholesterol and lowering the risk of coronary heart disease -- and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recognized these claims since 2006.
U.S. and Japanese negotiators finished three intensive days of talks in Tokyo this week without reaching any substantive agreement to resolve differences on automobile issues and access to agricultural products as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. At issue is the U.S. effort to secure concessions to liberalize access to Japan's declared sensitive products—rice, wheat, barley, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar.
"The U.S. Grains Council remembers the 1960 'hog lift' to Japan as our founding event," said Council President and CEO Tom Sleight, "and still today, anything that hurts hogs hurts many of our oldest and best customers around the world. The current swine epidemic is a serious matter for many of them, and therefore for us."
U.S. corn exports to Japan are enjoying a powerful rebound, projecting a strong return for the remainder of the 2013/2014 marketing year that began Sept. 1. Current USDA reports show outstanding sales and accumulated exports to Japan totaled 8.4 million metric tons (331 million bushels) for this marketing year through March 6.
In 2012/2013 corn marketing year, some of the top markets for U.S. corn, including Japan, were forced to diversify sourcing due to a tight supply of U.S. corn. The good news, according to buyer feedback from the U.S. Grains Council's annual Japanese Corn Outlook Conference in Tokyo, is that the U.S. corn market share in Japan will likely rebound to 60-70 percent in early 2014.
Things are looking up for U.S. corn and barley in Japan.
According to a U.S. Grains Council contact, the U.S. corn market share in Japan will likely rebound to 60 to 70 percent in early 2014 — a significant improvement from 2012.
Council programming promotes the United States as a long-term, reliable supplier of high-quality corn and helps to reinvigorate the strong U.S.-Japan agricultural ties.
This week's U.S. Grains Council Chart of the Week shows that U.S. exports and outstanding sales in the first several months of the current corn marketing year have more than doubled since the same time period of the previous year and have already exceeded the accumulated total sales of the 2012/2013 marketing year.
By: Tommy Hamamoto, U.S. Grains Council Director in Japan
Japanese consumers are among the world's most health-conscious and make an excellent audience for information about the value and benefits of U.S. barley as a food ingredient. For more than four years, the U.S. Grains Council has been promoting beta-glucan barley as a heart healthy food ingredient, since U.S. research found beta-glucan barley to have properties that may lower cholesterol.