Brazil Overtakes the U.S. to Become the Top Global Corn Exporter

U.S. farmers have traditionally dominated the international market for corn, shipping more of it than any other country. In 2023 however, Brazil took the top spot, with 32% of global corn exports compared to 23% from the U.S.

One factor to consider is a huge crop in the Latin American nation and a shortfall in the U.S., paired with a weak Brazilian currency, which gave Brazil’s corn export industry the upper hand this season.

The U.S. has higher labor and transport costs, especially as a continued drought on the Mississippi River clogs the main trade artery for Midwest crops. Meanwhile, Brazil has been upgrading its ports and infrastructure, closing earlier logistics gaps. Brazil, with its warmer climate, also gets two corn harvests a year, instead of one, giving it a competitive advantage over the U.S. Even if the US corn sector regains the top exporting spot for a year or two in the near term, given all its obstacles in the global market compared to Brazil, it’s unlikely to recapture the crown in the long term.

At its peak, the U.S. exported 78% of its annual wheat production, 54% of its soybeans and 45% of its corn; in 2024, those figures are forecast to slip to 40%, 43% and 14%, respectively. It’s also making up a smaller share of global crop exports overall.

For major agricultural buyer China, Brazil also doesn’t come with any of the U.S.’s political baggage. Last year, China inked an agreement to purchase Brazilian grains to reduce its dependence on the U.S. and replace supplies from Ukraine cut off by the Russian invasion. Brazil’s first shipment of corn under the new deal set sail in November.

China is still a major buyer of American crops, importing more of the U.S.’s corn and soybeans than any other buyer for at least the last two calendar years. But in July, China was the leading destination for Brazil’s corn shipments at 902,000 tons, up from zero at the same time last year.

For more information, visit