WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Grains Council will lead several U.S. corn growers representing various state agricultural organizations and agribusinesses on a high-level leadership mission to three key Asian markets — Japan, China and Vietnam — from Nov. 29 to Dec. 9. Mission members will see an array of export challenges and opportunities, not just for corn but also for processed corn products.

“Japan, of course, is the largest U.S. corn export customer, but it is also a mature market that may be in transition,” said Tom Sleight, vice-president of operations at the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), which organized the mission.

“In contrast, China is the number one growth market in Asia and the big variable in today’s world trade. China’s demand is potentially colossal,” Sleight continued. “Vietnam is still an ‘infant’ market but it is a good representative of the demand developing in Southeast Asia, where the United States has struggled to gain a foothold.”

The mission is an opportunity for two-way learning, as growers gain firsthand exposure to the dynamics of developing and defending export markets and, at the same time, share their insights on the supply and quality of the new U.S. corn crop with key customers, USGC said.

As Pat Feldpausch, president of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, commented, “China is one-third of the world’s population. It will be interesting to see firsthand how their industrial revolution is helping to shape their food and grain demand needs.”

The mission will provide an especially broad understanding of Japanese customer needs, based on a schedule that includes a full range of corn end-uses from livestock feeding and starch processing to foods, such as the newly introduced ramen noodles with a 20% corn content, USGC said.

Port tours will allow mission members to assess how infrastructure issues affect corn and corn product shipments to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, China’s Pearl River delta and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

The mission roster includes participants from states representing more than 62% of U.S. corn production.

Participants include:

  • Bruce Wetzel, board member, Texas Corn Producer Board.
  • Pat Feldpausch, president, Corn Marketing Program of Michigan.
  • Tom Mueller, board member, Illinois Corn Marketing Board.
  • Randy Woodruff, board member, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board.
  • Paul Herringshaw, vice-chairman, Ohio Corn Marketing Program.
  • Kurt Hora, board member, Iowa Corn Growers Association.
  • Rob Korff, chairman, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.
  • Kelly Brunkhorst, ag program manager, Nebraska Corn Board.
  • Nancy Kavazanjian, communications director, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board, Inc.
  • Marri Carrow, manager of communications, USGC