European Union corn imports could be far higher than major
analysis groups are factoring in, some investors believe, thoughts enhanced by talk
of France's largest-ever shipment of the grain.
Many analysts see EU corn imports in 2012-13 being limited to
around historic averages, despite disappointing harvest prospects, by
inventories left over from last year's bumper crop.
The US Department of Agriculture has pegged imports at 3.0m
tonnes, a figure quoted by Hamburg-based grain trader Toepfer International, which
flagged the prospect of at least a "very good harvest" in Germany.
That level would in fact be less than half the level
estimated for last season, when a stocks rebuild and rising exports boosted the
need for imports.
'As much as 11m
However, the International Grains Council on Friday raised
its forecast for EU corn imports by 2.0m tonnes to 7.5m tonnes, while Strategie
Grains has forecast buy-ins at 8.2m tonnes. The European Union on Monday estimated imports at 6.5mn tonnes.
And even these figures may be underestimates, given the
prospect of a poor harvest in the bloc itself, where the Romanian crop in particular has disappointed, and may potentially halve this season.
A disappointing wheat crop
too, especially in the UK, has also underpinned the need for feed.
"A number of analysts have suggested that that EU could
import as much as 11m tonnes" of corn, grain traders at a major European commodities
house said, a figure which would represent a five-year high, and come as a weak
crop in the US, the top producer, has sent global prices soaring.
Goldman restated forecasts that corn could yet rebound to $9 a bushel in Chicago, representing a fresh record high.
Ukrainian corn is seen as a competitively priced feed grain,
although some believe that the South American supplies which US buyers are increasingly
turning to could make their way to the EU as well, if restrictions on
genetically modified crops are loosened.
The European Commission is expected within a month to decide
on Syngenta's MIR 162 insect-resistant variety of biotech corn.
The decision comes at a time of heightened concerns among
some EU quarters over the safety of genetically modified foods, after French researchers
last month said last month that rats fed on GM corn produced by Monsanto or
exposed to its key herbicide died earlier than those on a standard diet.
cheaper than Russian'
the bloc's top corn grower, was reported to have to made its largest ever corn shipment, of 55,000
tonnes, to South Korea.
The trade would also be the first shipment to Asia of French
corn, which is more usually exported elsewhere in the EU if not used at home.
Rising corn imports would also free up the EU to export more
wheat, for which importers are increasingly turning to the continent now that
Black Sea supplies are drying up.
"Into the Egyptian market, French wheat is now significantly
cheaper than Russian, so talk of a Russian export ban is becoming largely
irrelevant," the traders said.