US net export sales of corn for the 2022-23 marketing year (September-August) totaled 227,045 mt in the week ended Sept. 29, Department of Agriculture data showed Oct. 6.
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The net export sales weekly figure was below the 512,045 mt sold the previous week and below market expectations, which stood between 350,000 mt and 800,000 mt for the current marketing year.
There were not sales reported for the next marketing year, MY 2023-24.
Low water levels
Low water levels on the lower Mississippi River have increased the cost of moving corn from the US Midwest to the US Gulf, making US corn even less competitive against Brazilian second-crop corn, and around 61% of US corn exports are through the US Gulf.
Barge freight offers to move corn from mid-Mississippi to the US Gulf Coast for September shipment were at 238 cents/bu Sept. 28, up 60% on the week and up 68% from two weeks ago. For October shipment, they were 56% higher on the week at 238 cents/bu.
The low water level has worsened and by Oct. 5, barge freight offers to move corn from mid-Mississippi to the US Gulf Coast for October shipment were at 298 cents/bu, up 95% from two weeks ago and up 116%% from four weeks ago.
With the dry weather forecast ahead, water levels are expected to drop, and more draft restrictions and tow size reductions are expected. "It may be awhile before we seen impressive sales being reported," a market participant said.
So far in MY 2022-23, which began Sept. 1, 2021, total commitments — cumulative exports plus outstanding sales — have reached 13.223 million mt, falling 50% year on year and 42% from the five-year average. Total commitments have already reached 23% of the USDA's export estimate of 57.79 million mt for the MY 2022-23.
Outstanding export sales of US corn, defined by product sold but not yet shipped, for the current marketing year totaled 10.976 million mt, 54% below the year-ago level and 43% below the five-year average, the USDA said.
Export shipments for the week ended Sept. 29 were at 645,500 mt. Main destinations were 422,300 mt to China, 182,800 to Mexico, 13,300 mt to Guatemala, 10,000 mt to Canada, and 7,200 mt to Jamaica, USDA said.
The top buyers of US corn so far in the current marketing year include Mexico with 5.392 million mt, China with 3.386 million mt, and Japan with 1.034 million mt, the USDA data showed.
The top corn buyers in the most recent week for deliveries in MY 2022-23 included Mexico with 147,307 mt purchased, Honduras with 28,200 mt, Guatemala with 20,805 mt, and China with 14,150 mt.
Since the start of the marketing year, 1.487 million mt of US corn has been committed for unknown destinations, including sales by 1,500 mt in the week ended Sept. 29, the USDA data showed.
The Platts corn CIF New Orleans basis in barges for October shipment rose 12 cents week on week at 131 cents/bu above the CBOT December (Z) contract Sept. 29, S&P Global Commodity Insights data showed.
Net sales are considered a more appropriate indicator of the strength of the corn market than physical exports, as they reflect new sales. Outstanding export sales and the pace of export shipments are considered indicators of the strength of the New Orleans CIF barge corn market.
Of the total estimated US corn production for MY 2022-23, 16% was projected to be exported, and US exports were estimated to be 31% of total global exports.