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Market Development in Japan

Posted on September 9, 2013 at 9:10 AM by Iowa Corn

by Shannon Textor, Director of Market Development, Iowa Corn

Iowa farmer leaders and I now have traveled from Korea to Japan.  As I mentioned last week, the group is part of a delegation of farmers from several states in the Midwest 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 (USGA) organized and facilitated key meetings for this visit.

Japanese customers are very sophisticated. Japan had been the No. 1 market for U.S. corn and historically the U.S. supplied 90 percent of their corn, but in 2012 the U.S. dropped to only 50 percent. They value U.S. corn for quality, reliability, dependable logistics and transparency (such as chemicals & seeds used), but the 2012 prices made them look for other sources of corn. Japanese now know there are other sources for quality corn so supply and price are necessary to earn back our market share.

So far, we’ve heard concerns about stainless steel bolts in their shipments of U.S. corn. We assured them stainless steel isn’t used regularly, if at all at the farm. We are working to resolve the issue and USGC is already sorting out the details. We also heard concerns about aflatoxin and mycotoxin which are not acceptable.

The buyers are very interested in hearing from our farmers and have been interested in where our delegation is from (IL, MO, OH and IA) in order to understand U.S. production. Farmers discussed seed technology, precision technology, planting decisions and the importance of all markets. They also discussed quality differences between all sources. U.S. farmers discussed that market signals told them to plant more corn and they did by planting the most corn acres since 1947. Farmers also shared the on-farm investments made in tile, dryers, storage and family members who are coming back to the farm as a result of demand in the market place.

All markets are needed and wanted for U.S. farmers and we want to maintain our reputation of being reliable suppliers of corn.

Our delegation also visited with the U.S. Meat Export Federation to discuss their work on promoting sales of chilled pork and work to regain market share for U.S. beef.

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