News & Events
By Cary Sifferath, USGC Regional Director in the Mediterranean and Africa
Corn oil is a preferred product across much of the Middle East and North Africa, and Tunisia -- a major producer and exporter of olive oil -- has emerged as the top regional market for U.S. corn oil in calendar year 2011. That is a big jump for Tunisia, which has traditionally been the number three market for U.S. corn oil exports; Tunisia more than doubled its imports over 2010.
This chart illustrates the dynamics of Morocco's coarse grains supply and demand. The grey area in the chart shows production, which in Morocco is mostly barley. The saw-tooth nature of the production area reflects the weather dependency of Morocco's crop production. The total use and feed use lines show strong growth over time. But that growth can be derailed by a series of bad harvests, as was the case in 2007 and 2008.
In a country whose economy is largely dependent on oil exports, the ethanol industry (and related co-products) is often maligned and a large target of contention and discomfort within Saudi Arabia. However, the proverb "the stone age didn't end from a lack of stones" exemplifies the evolution of energy technology, and in 2011, Saudi Arabia was overtaken by Venezuela as the owner of the world's most known oil reserves. All of this confirmed the notion for what most Saudis were already thinking — the necessity to diversify their economy — and one of the new focuses is agriculture.
A new strain of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is spreading throughout Egypt. As of this writing, 100,000 cattle have been infected and more than 9,000 have died. Council staff recently visited Egypt to disseminate the U.S. Grains Council's inaugural Corn Harvest Quality Report. Everyday, almost every newspaper contained an article on its front page regarding the outbreak and Egypt's transition government's reactions and responses, as reported by MENA (Middle East News Agency).
Lower input prices for corn, soybeans and day-old chicks compared to last year are more than offsetting a decrease in broiler and table-egg prices in Egypt. This is expected to generate better marginal profits for Egypt's poultry sector, according to Dr. Hussein Soliman, U.S. Grains Council director in Egypt.
As profits increase, higher wages and growing consumer demand in Egypt will lead to industry expansion, Soliman predicted.
The U.S. Grains Council recently recognized Egypt Director Dr. Hussein Soliman for his 20 years of dedicated service and achievements in Developing Markets, Enabling Trade and Improving Lives.
“Dr. Soliman’s work is an outstanding example of what the Council tries to do in every market,” said Chris Corry, USGC senior director of international operations.
High attendance numbers at the Jordan Poultry Producers Association’s (JPPA) Conference in January was a strong indication of industry development, according to Joe O’Brien, U.S. Grains Council regional director.
“This was an opportunity for the Council to target more poultry operators and educate attendees on the benefits of incorporating U.S. DDGS and sorghum in poultry rations,” O’Brien commented, later adding that the conference was a unique platform to address producer quality concerns and promote value-enhanced U.S. grain products.
The U.S. Grains Council and Ministry of Agriculture cooperative program to establish a Tunisian central laboratory for feed analysis is well underway, reported Cary Sifferath, USGC regional director.
Since moving into their building last September, the laboratory staff has grown to 13, including two technical engineers and five specialized technicians trained in grain inspection, minerals, crude fat and fiber analysis using atomic absorption spectrometry.
Ukraine exported just over 2 million metric tons of grain in December, of which about 1.6 million metric tons (63 million bushels) was corn, according to U.S. Grains Council sources. The leading corn importers were Egypt, 252,000 tons; Spain, 350,000 tons; and Iran, 160,000 tons. Egypt, Tunisia and Spain took most of Ukraine’s wheat shipments.
The U.S. Grains Council hosted a high-level delegation of Israel’s leading feed grain importers for a top-to-bottom review of U.S. grain production, marketing and delivery systems.
“This was an important chance to showcase the opportunities U.S. grains offer,” explained Joe O’Brien, USGC regional director in the Middle East. “Israel has a sophisticated feed milling industry and will shift its sourcing, frequently based on prices and availability.”