The disparity between white and yellow corn supply in South Africa’s beleaguered corn inventories saw the country import yellow corn and export white corn during the week ending February 2, data from the country’s grain information service showed Thursday.

The reshuffle highlighted the challenges facing the country, which is typically an exporter of corn regionally and internationally, as it grapples with a new crop that has already seen persistent dry weather deal productions forecasts a major blow.

Data shows South Africa’s white corn exports saw their busiest week since the end of April 2018 – the final week of the previous marketing year – as almost 47,000 mt left the country.

The bulk of the exports went in one 38,500 mt cargo to Ethiopia, in what appears to be the first such movement of corn in a decade and one of the largest cargoes the country has exported there, with the balance split between neighbouring Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.

Over the same week, the country imported 30,000 mt Brazilian yellow corn – completing delivery of a 50,000 mt cargo that was partially registered in last week’s data as the first corn imports delivered into South Africa in nearly two years.

Plentiful supply of white corn – more typically used for human consumption – saw prices fall earlier in the season prompting animal feed suppliers to switch to the cheaper grade.

That helped fuel a substantial yellow corn export programme, which was dramatically curtailed as fears mounted over the state of South Africa’s yellow corn stocks and as persistent drought stoked fears for the 2019/20 marketing year outlook.

With stock levels now standing at around 7 million mt as of the end of December, SAGIS data reveals a bias towards white corn – which accounts for 4.1 million mt in stock – versus yellow corn with 2.8 million mt.

The corn imports were recorded into the port of Cape Town, while exports sailed from Durban, according to the data.


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