Maintaining Excellence in Mature Markets

Japan, Korea and Taiwan are all mature markets: high-income countries with stable and aging populations; excellent, high-quality diets; sophisticated food production and marketing systems; and among the highest food safety standards in the world. They are also all critical markets for U.S. feed grains and ongoing areas for engagement by the U.S. grains industry.

The Council’s promotion of U.S. coarse grains in Japan for more than 50 years has contributed to the country remaining the top destination for U.S. corn exports. Japanese livestock producers are critically concerned with the reliability of foreign suppliers, so the efforts of USGC’s on-the-ground staff in Tokyo and U.S. farmers who visit frequently are targeted at maintaining relationships with these customers and providing them with information about U.S. supply.

The Council is also building new market opportunities in Japan through food sorghum promotion including direct-toconsumer outreach to stimulate demand among health-conscious customers.

This year, a major Japanese network TV station aired an original story introducing U.S. white sorghum as a healthy grain to roughly 1 million consumers, a milestone for the Council’s multi-year promotion of the food ingredient.

The Council has been active in Korea since opening an office there in 1972, with programs that have been instrumental in the growth of the Korean livestock and corn processing industries.

The Council will continue to seek increased U.S. market share in Korea’s coarse grains and co-products import markets through customized trade servicing, educating importers on U.S. advantages and touting the benefits of doing business with the United States.

For example, Korea has a complex biotech regulatory system in which five agencies review and approve biotech events. To help mitigate this cumbersome process and provide firsthand education to these policymakers, the Council brings a trade team of Korean food, environmental safety and risk evaluation committee representatives to the United States each year to learn how U.S. agriculture manages and regulates biotech crops.

The Council has been involved in Taiwan for more than 40 years, during which time it has grown into a steady, reliable buyer of U.S. coarse grains and co-products. 

This year, as part of the Taiwanese Agricultural Goodwill Mission, a delegation signed a letter of intent with the Council committing to purchase 5 million metric tons (197 million bushels) of U.S. corn and 0.5 million tons of U.S. corn co-products valued at $1.23 billion by 2017.

Participating in the Goodwill Mission was a critical piece of the Council’s work to preserve Taiwan’s preference for U.S. coarse grains and co-products. After the formal signing ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, members of the Taiwanese delegation undertook a week-long tour of the U.S. Grain Belt to see farms and grain elevators and meet with local leaders. While in the Midwest, a corn and soybean group met with government officials, farmers and agriculture groups in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota.

The Council will continue to nurture its relationship with Taiwanese policymakers and industry leaders by bringing them to the United States for learning journeys, sending U.S. industry leaders to Taiwan and through direct trade servicing efforts.