In 2015, 10 countries that export the most corn in the world accounted for a whopping 88% of world’s corn exports. In terms of cold hard cash, these nations raked in more than $25 billion, out of total corn export business, estimated at $28.3 billion globally per annum.
The world of corn exports is a fairly small one. There are 10 countries on our list, but the Big boys club (countries that hold 10% and above of the global market share) ends at number 4. These four countries combined control 70% of corn exports. Interestingly enough, some of them are also among the biggest corn importers as well. Mexico, the cradle of corn and a country where you would be hard-pressed to find a meal that doesn’t contain corn, is the world’s third corn importer. I’m sure Donald Trump supporters will find something interesting and clever to say about this fact. Other major corn markets are EU, Japan, South Korea, and Egypt.
Today, human consumption is the third-ranked use of corn. In the United Staes, it is primarily used as a source of biofuels (about 40% of it goes for the production of ethanol), with cattle feed (36% of all produced corn) in the second place. GMO corn has done wonders for production and availability of corn, making it one of the easiest crops to grow. There are engineered varieties for every climate and water level. Scientists have produced several of them that are even drought resistant. This, combined with a very favorable weather in the Midwest, has led to some of the record-breaking harvests. However, not everyone is happy with GMO corn, as the Iowa farmers learned the hard way when China rejected their corn on the basis that it contains GMO strain not approved by their authorities, resulting in an estimated $1 billion loss. Farmers are now suing the seed producer Syngenta, demanding compensations.
Corn availability also has some serious downsides. In 2015, corn exports have dropped 13.7% compared to 2014. The downward trend has been present ever since 2012 and the record price of $8.49 per bushel. For comparison’s sake, the highest price in 2015 was $4.51 per bushel. People who feel this the most are the farmers, like the ones in Corn Belt. A while back, they were able to make as much as $400 per acre of corn, but with today’s prices, each of those acres may end up costing them $50. Some of them are considering switching to some other crop, at least until the market rebounds. If some of them consider barley, it may at least boost the US mediocre position on the list of countries that export the most beer.
But it’s not just the farmers that suffer from low corn prices. The entire agricultural sector in the US is feeling the pain of crops’ falling prices. John Deere, unable to sell their equipment to cash-strapped farmers, has been forced to lay off a significant number of workers from their Iowa and Illinois factories. The other manufacturers will follow suit unless this year’s price doesn’t increase. According to the University of Illinois projections, that is unlikely to happen.
Depending on the methodology of research, there are several ways to rank 10 countries that export the most corn. We decided to use World’s Top Exports for the basis of our list. One of the reasons is that they list EU countries separately and not lumped together under the EU tag. This gives a fair overview of the geographical distribution of corn production, with North America and Europe highlighted as the major producers.