SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — South Korea’s corn imports are expected to be higher than initial estimates in 2019-20 due to a greater demand from poultry and beef cattle, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While swine inventory has dropped because of African swine fever, poultry and beef inventories have increased.

Corn imports are expected to reach 10.8 million tonnes, up from an initial forecast of 10.5 million tonnes.

Total corn imports in 2018-19 reached a record 10.8 million tonnes, up 8% from the previous year, to meet a greater demand for feed corn offsetting a limited supply of feed wheat, the USDA said.

Wheat production is expected to drop to 13,000 tonnes due to lack of demand for locally produced wheat. Overall wheat consumption, however, is expected to grow slightly to 3.85 million tonnes.

Imports are anticipated at 4.1 million tonnes, with 2.6 million tonnes used for milling and 1.5 million tonnes for animal feed.

Rice production is estimated down 2.5%, the USDA said, to 3.78 million tonnes in 2019-20 from the previous forecast, due to unfavorable weather and decreased planting area.

“Rice area has continued to decrease annually — with decreases ranging from 5,000 hectare to 38,000 hectare every year since 2001,” the USDA said.

In 2019, the rice planting area was down 1.1%, or 7,853 hectares, in response to demand for land for residential and commercial construction, as well as conversion of rice paddy land to other crops under the government rice reduction program, the USDA said.