Corn and soybean export
information is available from USDA data, available weekly, and
Census Bureau data, available monthly but with long time lags.
Export inspection data from USDA is currently available through Jan.
6, and export data from the USDA's export sales report is available
through Dec. 30, 2004. Census data is available only for September
and October, the first two months of the 2004-05 marketing year.
"Through Dec. 30, cumulative soybean
export inspections were reported at 531.4 million bushels, 4 percent
larger than the cumulative inspections a year earlier," said Darrel
Good, University of Illinois Extension economist. "Accumulated
exports in the export sales report totaled 539.7 million bushels. An
additional 28.3 million bushels were inspected during the week ended
on Jan. 6, so that cumulative inspections were 5.8 percent larger
than those of a year earlier."
He says that through October, the
Census Bureau estimates of soybean exports were about 10 million
bushels larger than the USDA estimates. This is a smaller difference
than is typically experienced.
"Through Dec. 30, 2004, exports to
China were 17.4 percent larger than exports of a year ago," he said.
"China accounted for 46 percent of all U.S. exports. The European
Union had imported 10.3 percent more U.S. soybeans than imported a
year ago and accounted for 18.2 percent of U.S. exports."
He says that, for the year, the USDA
has projected U.S. soybean exports at 1.01 billion bushels, 14.1
percent more than exported last year.
"When compared to last year's pace,
exports so far this year would appear to be lagging the pace needed
to reach the USDA projection," he said. "Last year, however, 80
percent of the U.S. exports occurred in the first half of the
A more typical pattern is for 65
percent to 70 percent of the exports to occur during the first half
of the year.
Inspections need to average only
about 13.4 million bushels per week from now through August to reach
the USDA projection. With unshipped sales as of Dec. 30, 2004,
totaling 200 million bushels, exports appear on track to meet the
top of second column in this article]
"The corn export data are not as
consistent as the soybean data," Good said. "Through Dec. 30, 17
weeks into the 2004-05 marketing year, export inspections totaled
617.3 million bushels, 3.8 percent less than the total in the
However, accumulated exports in the
USDA's export sales report totaled 646.2 million bushels as of Dec.
30, nearly 30 million bushels more than reported for inspection. In
addition, Census Bureau figures for September and October 2004
indicated that exports were 16 million larger than reported in the
export sales report and 14 million more than exported in the same
two months in 2003. All of that year-over-year increase, however,
was in September, with October shipments about equal to those of a
"For the year, the USDA currently
projects U.S. corn exports at 2 billion bushels, 5.4 percent more
than exported last year," Good said.
Exports followed a typical pattern
last year, with about half of the annual exports occurring in the
first half of the year.
"With cumulative shipments
apparently running about 1 percent behind last year's pace and
unshipped sales as of Dec. 30, 2004, trailing those of a year ago by
23.8 percent, there is concern that the USDA projection will not be
reached," he said. "The key will be Asian demand and Chinese
Demand from Taiwan currently appears
a little soft, with export commitments to that country running about
13 percent behind the pace of a year ago. On the other hand, the
USDA reported a sale of about 1 million bushels to China during the
week ended Dec. 23, 2004.
"A continuation in the slowdown of
Chinese exports and any additional purchases of U.S. corn by China
would be very supportive to U.S. export prospects," Good said. "If
new sales to China do not unfold, the market may want to discount
the USDA projection of 2 billion bushels."
He says that the USDA's final
production estimates and the Dec. 1 stocks estimates, to be released
Wednesday, will provide important fundamental information for the
corn and soybean markets. After the reports, however, the market
will continue to pay close attention to the development of the South
American crops and the pace of U.S. exports.
[University of Illinois news release]