Corn and Bean Exports Still Strong; Wheat Remains Lackluster

Corn and Bean Exports Still Strong; Wheat Remains Lackluster

In its weekly grain export inspections report, USDA included 1.18 million metric tons of corn inspected in the week ended March 5, down modestly from 1.28 MMT the prior week and still above the 936,000 inspected in the comparable week last year. This brings corn’s marketing year total to 19.77 MMT, 10% over last year.

Still, inspections are less than half USDA’s projection for the marketing year, leading some to expect a reduction in that projection in this morning’s supply/demand report. However, keep in mind that export commitments are 80% of the marketing year forecast—ahead of last year’s 76% at this time. 

Soybeans also have not faded as much as might be expected with Brazilian harvest well along and the truck strike road closures over. At 625,713 metric tons, beans are down 4% from the prior week, and 43% from a year earlier, when Brazilian ports were overwhelmed and ships were not moving and customers turned to U.S. suppliers.

Yet, market year to date, 42.5 MMT have been inspected, up from under 38 MMT last year. That has led some in the trade to expect today’s supply/demand report to modestly raise the export projection even though shipments do drop seasonally at this time of year. That could lead to a reduction in ending stocks.

Wheat, on the other hand, continues to dribble into the export channel: just 376,210 metric tons were inspected this week, down from almost 481,000 the prior week and nearly 439,000 last year. For the marketing year, 17.4 MMT have been inspected, a 29% reduction from last year’s pace.That’s 92.4% of USDA’s estimate for the year, with three months to go. Unlike corn, wheat commitments are lower as a percent of total, at 89% vs. an average of 92%. 

It is also worth watching USDA's meat export projections.

Recently released Census data for January show both beef and pork exports plummeted. Whether USDA views that as a short-term effect of the West Coast dock workers' slowdown, which now has ended, or a longer term impact of the strong dollar will drive their forecast for exports the remainder of the marketing year. By far the largest reductions came from Asian customers, which could favor the West Coast theory. In addition, even accounting for exchange rates, pork prices have fallen for Asian buyers compared with this time last year. 

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