In recent training seminars in Algeria and Morocco, the U.S. Grains Council’s first annual U.S. Corn Quality Harvest Report presented regional importers and feed millers with the results of a quality-focused study based on corn samples taken from 12 top-producing states. Algeria and Morocco are growing corn markets, and using actual data to prove U.S. corn quality is a critical step to regaining U.S. market share in the region.
During the one-on-one meetings in Algeria, the quality report was effective in providing valuable data to the Council’s target importers: the commercial feed sector. Currently, small poultry producers with on-farm mixing operations dominate the market at 80 percent. These poultry farmers are willing to pay a $10 to $50/metric ton premium for the color and hardness of Argentine corn. However, based on market analysis, the practice of on-farm mixing of corn/feed is shifting, and will continue to shift toward more commercial feed production, with greater interest in using quality grains at cost-effective prices. The quality report provided relevant, marketable data for commercial feed producers to make informed decisions.
Still evident in the Moroccan feed market is the "hangover effect" from quality issues with U.S. corn from the 2009-10 crop year. Following presentations at these seminars, I personally met with major corn importers and other industry members to openly address concerns over quality specifications and mycotoxin issues. Citing real data from the report gave us the ability to showcase the quality of the 2011 crop by providing testing weight, moisture levels and other quality indicators.
U.S. market share has fallen in both of these countries as a result of increased competition from South America and the Black Sea region. Moving forward, regional end-users will have access to corn quality data in the upcoming Corn Export Cargo Quality Report.