TOKYO, JAPAN — With prices on the global market remaining at a low level, Japan is forecast to import 15.3 million tonnes of corn in 2018-19, according to a March 28 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The total imports are unchanged from its revised 2017-18 forecast, as demand is projected to remain strong. Reflecting abundant world corn supplies, Japanese corn import prices in 2016-17 hit their lowest level since 2005-06, encouraging increased feed demand, the report said.

Japanese traders imported corn from several suppliers, enabling them to procure corn at competitive prices from the United States, Brazil, South Africa and Russia in recent months.

As an energy source, grains account for more than 60% of the Japanese compound feed formula, the report said. While the composition ratio for grains in compound feed is largely affected by the price of each grain, corn is the principal component, accounting for 77% of grains and 46.3% of the total compound feed formula in 2016-17, it said.

“Increased use of rice and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in compound feed in Japan has only led to a minor decline (2% to 3%) in corn use over the past 10 years,” according to the USDA. “Additionally, competitive corn prices encouraged feed millers to use slightly more corn in Japanese feed production at the expense of sorghum and rice in MY2015-16 and MY2016-17.”