New engagement by U.S. Grains Council (USGC) staff and members in South Africa over the past year has helped achieve export victories there, with recent sales of U.S. sorghum and biotechnology trait approvals that will allow imports of U.S. corn.
In 2015 and 2016, as a result of El Nino, the country suffered a severe drought, leading its feed industry to import U.S. corn for the first time in almost a decade. South Africa uses both yellow corn for animal feed and white corn for a staple food known locally as pap or mieliepap.
While the United States had plenty of corn available for export at a reasonable price, lagging biotech trait approvals limited the amount of possible exports to South Africa.
More than 140,000 metric tons (5.5 million bushels) of U.S. white corn was shipped to South Africa in 2016, but a lag in getting biotechnology traits approved prevented more corn from the U.S. being shipped last marketing year.
To address these constraints and set the stage for new sales, USGC and its members responded quickly to this opportunity and ramped up outreach efforts in the South African market.