WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — In a recent survey, Latin American buyers put reliability and price at the top of their purchasing checklist, with country of origin and financing not perceived to be as critical. Factors occupying the middle ground included delivery time, supplier experience, market information and customer service.

This information emerged through a post-meeting survey conducted among participants of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) 2015 Latin American Regional Buyers Conference, held this July in Medellin, Colombia. That event was attended by more than 100 attendees from 11 countries in the Western Hemisphere.

“The Western Hemisphere accounts for 50 percent of the U.S. corn export market,” said Luis Bustamante, USGC marketing specialist for the Western Hemisphere. “The attendees in Medellin were among our best and most loyal customers, and we listen to them very closely, especially now that Colombia is the third U.S. corn export customer after Japan and Mexico.”

Fifty-two percent of the respondents to the survey were feed producers or importers. The remainder represented the rest of the value chain from farmers and farm associations to food manufacturers, nutritionists, researchers and consultants.

Factors rated as highly important to buying decisions included supplier reliability, selected by 79% of respondents; price, 71%; delivery time, 56%; supplier experience, 48%; customer service, 46%; market information, 40%; country of origin, 25%; and financing, 19%.

“This was a sophisticated audience with the majority being direct purchasers and end-users,” Bustamante said. “The fact that they put reliability and price far ahead of country of origin shows that they are attentive to the market.

“Most of them rank the United States as their main supplier. That shows we’re meeting the test, but that’s a status we have to earn every day. Conferences like this are an important tool for staying in touch.”