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Bulding Markets for Iowa Corn in South Korea

Posted on September 4, 2013 at 1:52 PM by Iowa Corn

by Shannon Textor, Director of Market Development, Iowa Corn
Iowa farmer leaders and I have been in South Korea the past few days touring ports and visiting with corn processors. The group is part of a delegation of farmers from several Midwestern states visiting Korea and Japan. Iowa farmers in the delegation include Duane Aistrope of Randolph, Dick Gallagher of Washington, Kevin Rempp of Montezuma and Deb Keller of Clarion.

The U.S. Grains Council, who works on market development and organized and facilitated these meetings, asked U.S. farmers to visit this region and communicate with key buyers about the farmers’ ability to produce corn and be a reliable supplier. The farmers are also asking for their business. Recent high prices for U.S. corn and concerns about the drought in 2012 reduced U.S. exports to Korea. Korean buyers found other sources for corn.  Currently, U.S. corn accounts for only one percent of Korean imports. In 2011, the U.S. accounted for 75 to 80 percent of their corn imports. In past years, Korea has been the second-largest importer of U.S. corn in the world.

Korean buyers are among the most sophisticated in the world. They are price savvy and have no problem adjusting rations when they cannot source U.S. corn. Korean buyers prefer U.S. corn for quality, reliability and infrastructure but are not willing to pay more than $10-20 more per ton for it.

Our group also met with U.S. Meat Export Federation officials to discuss the programs supported by Iowa farmers and our checkoff funds. Iowa farmers are helping regain U.S. red meat exports to Korea.

It’s been important for the U.S. farmers and suppliers to build relationships with Korean buyers so they can regain market share. Our group heads to Japan next.

Photos of Seoul, Korea

Korean Market Snapshot - courtesy of U.S. Grains Council

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