Global trade of all grains & oilseeds has grown by about 150 million tonnes in the last five years, thereby exceeding the growth of the previous five years by more than 50%. However, given the significant decline in prices, the value of these flows has dropped by more than 15% in the same period, to nearly USD 200 billion in 2014/15, according to Rabobank’s latest report ‘Grow with the Flow: 2016 Grain & Oilseed Trade Developments’.
“While US exports have been struggling in recent years, due to the strong US dollar, exports of emerging regions with weak currencies continue to boom. This includes Brazil—which has overtaken the US as the largest soybean exporter in the world and whose corn exports have tripled in the last five years—as well as the Black Sea Region, which continues to show strong export growth rates”, says Stefan Vogel, Global Strategist Grain and Oilseeds at Rabobank. “The EU has also, due to very good crops in recent years, grown its grain exports by about 50% in the last five years.”
Global imports are dominated, both in absolute and in growth terms, by Asia (43% of all imports), followed by the EU (12%), as well as North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South America and Central America, which each account for about 8% to 11% of imports, with Sub-Saharan Africa showing the strongest growth rates.
Key changes in trade origins
South American exports are growing faster than those of North America. Brazil has raised its exports by an impressive 41 million tonnes, or 73%, in the last five years. Soybeans and corn were the two major exported commodities, driven by strong Asian demand and, respectively, showing a doubling, as well as a tripling, in trade. The Black Sea Region also continued its production and export growth. Ukraine, Russia and the eastern EU member states each increased their grain & oilseed (G&O) exports by about 50%.
Key changes in major importers
The Americas-to-Asia trade is the key driving factor of G&O trade flows worldwide. Especially in China where in the last five years G&O imports have increased by almost 90%. Other destination areas like the Middle East, South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have also increased their role in the last five years.
Global G&O trade will continue to grow, as the demand regions with the highest growth rates (i.e. Asia, the Middle East and Africa) will rely even more on imported commodities. Trade into China will be crucial, especially for soybeans as the demand for animal feeding is further growing, while feed grain import might face challenges in the future and the country might even turn into a net exporter as the government in China has to deal with record high domestic corn stocks. South American exports will gain further importance and even so Brazil’s G&O exports are still 30% lower than those of the US, the gap will close further in the next years. Also, the liberalisation of the Argentine export system in late 2015 and a weak Argentine peso will support the countries G&O exports.