North Asia Virtual Crop Tour Gives Buyers, End-Users Inside Look at U.S. Corn Before Harvest

To provide buyers and end-users up-to-date information on U.S. corn quality and production prospects and to encourage the purchasing of U.S. corn before harvest, the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) offices in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan recently hosted a North Asia Virtual Crop Tour program.

Despite the constraints of COVID-19, the program offered attendees a virtual sweep of this year’s crop without physically visiting farms in the United States.

About 250 corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) buyers and end-users from Korea, Japan, and Taiwan participated in the event.

Several USGC members were also involved, providing video clips and photos of their crops to give attendees the feel of being on the farm with them.

“The virtual crop tour gave the East Asia customers a good sense of the new crop through high quality videos from the corn belt, where the farmers are in the fields harvesting corn,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan.

“Although in-person trade teams provide better understanding of the crop situation, this virtual crop tour can be reached by 10 times more customers, which is the great advantage of this kind of virtual activity.”

Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand opened the program, welcoming attendees to the event.

Participants also heard from Arlan Suderman on the global market outlook, and member representatives from Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska as they spoke on regional crop updates and harvest prospects.

“Our participants loved how Iowa corn producer Lance Lillibridge hired several cattle judges to evaluate his corn’s quality,” said Michael Lu, USGC’s director in Taiwan.

“We watched those judges eating corn with gusto and got the feel that the corn quality must be pretty good.”

The program concluded with a 30-minute question-and-answer session, in which attendees were able to candidly discuss the presented topics with the program speakers.

South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are mature markets for U.S. corn, and competition for market expansion with other countries of origin is intensifying every year.

As corn and DDGS prices continue to be strong this year due to tight corn supply in the United States and South America, global buyers are more interested than ever in U.S. corn crop conditions and harvest outcomes.

“Customers in Taiwan expressed their gratitude toward the council for arranging this timely virtual crop tour for them to better understand the new crop progress and to learn from producers about the crop quality,” Lu said.

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