More than one million metric tons of corn and dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) were contracted last week during the Ag Supply Chain Asia 2019 (ASCA19) conference in the Philippines, part of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) strategy to defend established markets while identifying new opportunities throughout the Southeast Asia region.
The Council co-hosted the joint buyers conference with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA’s FAS). More than 250 of the most important grain and oilseed importers from Southeast Asia gathered in Manila to discuss current market dynamics, the Chinese market, the African Swine Fever situation as well as the grain supply and demand, U.S.-Southeast Asia trade policy and big data in agriculture.
“The establishment of face-to-face relationships is critical, and buyers conferences like this one provide U.S. suppliers an optimal space to reach growing Southeast Asia demand,” said Caleb Wurth, USGC assistant director for Southeast Asia. “The concentration of quality, active buyers at the conference was second-to-none in the region.”
Buyers conferences like ASCA19 are a cornerstone of USGC programming in Southeast Asia. In addition to facilitating discussions between traders and customers, the conference offered trade servicing and value added opportunities to partners in the region. The up-to-date information provided at the conference is just one key selling point for U.S.-origin commodities.
A specific highlight of the conference, two U.S. farmers presented on U.S. corn production in aggregate and their respective operations: Tom Mueller, corn sector director on the USGC Board of Directors and member of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, and Larry Klever, member of the USGC Asia Advisory Team and past president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.
Mueller and Klever also also joined USGC staff on a trade mission prior to the conference, visiting Davao in Southern Philippines. These grower-leaders engaged with 86 new potential swine and poultry customers during a day-long seminar. The pair provided their perspectives on grain trade as farmers, highlighting the care and attention producers put into each and every crop and giving valuable insights into the factors that dictate their planting decisions. U.S. exporters and USGC regional consultants also provided information on technical feeding and trading dynamics for U.S. corn, DDGS and sorghum.
The Council is putting additional focus on the Philippines in 2019 as a growing feed market in Southeast Asia. The Philippines is a potential market for U.S. sorghum and DDGS due to high local feed prices and a prohibitive tariff rate quota (TRQ) on imported corn. The Philippines has imported nearly 108,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS thus far in the 2018/2019 marketing year (September 2018-January 2019), continuing an upward trajectory of sales in recent years.
“The Council plans to bring together strategic import partners and U.S. exporters to demonstrate the value U.S. coarse grains can bring to Philippine end-users and assist in establishing a long-term, sustainable market,” Wurth said. “This overall strategy was in full display as the Council, partner importers, member-traders and grower leaders all played a part to draw such a large eager audience in this developing market – all in efforts to provide growing, diversified demand for U.S. coarse grains, co-products and ethanol.”