WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Corn imports in Malaysia in 2018-19 are forecast to increase 100,000 tonnes to 4.1 million, according to an April 24 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report said the recent surge in corn demand is due to a consumer switch to a cheaper protein source such as dressed poultry as the price of beef, seafood and pork have risen with the implementation of a 6% Goods and Service Tax (GST).

In addition, increased popularity of chicken-based fast-food restaurants such as KFC, Nando’s and The Chicken Rice Shop helped raise poultry demand by 3% annually in recent years.

Argentina is the largest corn exporter to Malaysia, accounting for more than 50% of the market share, followed by Brazil and the United States.

Malaysia, a country with no commercial corn production, in 2018-19 is forecast to import 320,000 tonnes from the United States, which did not export any corn to Malaysia four years ago.

“As the price of corn is forecast to stabilize, the net export selling price difference between U.S. corn and South American corn has narrowed, making it competitive for U.S. corn relative to supplies from other countries,” the USDA noted.