TOKYO, JAPAN — Stable demand for feed and relative price competitiveness are forecast to maintain Japan’s robust demand for corn in 2020-21, according to a March 25 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Japan, which only produces about 2,000 tonnes of corn per year, is forecast to import 16 million tonnes of corn in 2020-21, the same as this year’s total, the USDA said.

“Feed mills will look to continue taking advantage of competitive corn prices, having already increased the ratio of corn in compound feed to 48.6%, the highest since 2009-10,” the USDA said.

In 2018-19, compound feed production rose for the fourth straight year, increasing 0.4%.

“Strong demand from the poultry sector, slight gains in beef production, and flat pork production, despite the outbreak of classical swine fever and the subsequent culling of hogs, contributed to the modes feed production gains,” the USDA said.

According to industry sources, to date, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has not affected feed consumption in Japan.

Although the United States is the primary supplier of corn to Japan, imports from Brazil spiked recently as a large, high-quality crop coupled with a weak Brazilian real paved the way for a short-term increase of imports from Brazil between October 2019 and January 2020. During that stretch, Brazil’s share of the Japanese corn market was 70%, according to the USDA.

However, the USDA said Japanese corn imports from the United States are expected to rebound for the remainder of 2019-20 as supplies from Brazil dwindle.