USGC: Decades of work built large, loyal markets in Japan, Taiwan

By U.S. Grains Council | June 25, 2018

Large, loyal and long-term.

Ascribing these attributes to an overseas market requires decades of high-quality market development work by organizations like the U.S. Grains Council. USGC leadership embarked on the annual Chairman’s Mission this month to recognize the importance of two markets that exemplify the success of long-term trading relationships—Japan and Taiwan.

“We wanted to demonstrate to our officers the success of the Council’s continual market development efforts and express our appreciation to two of our best and most loyal markets,” said Deb Keller, USGC chairman, who led the mission.

USGC officers and leadership traveled to Japan and Taiwan to demonstrate their appreciation to loyal customers and partners in those markets.
Joining Keller were Jim Stitzlein, USGC vice chairman; Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer; Tim Tierney, USGC director of strategic marketing/ethanol, North Asia; and Abigail Appleton, USGC executive assistant.


Celebrating 45 years of efforts in Taiwan

The delegation officially acknowledged 45 years of partnership between the Council and Taiwanese government and industry while there. Since the Taiwan office was established in 1973, the Council’s technical programs have focused on helping feed millers and livestock and poultry producers manage their operations efficiently and use U.S. feed grains effectively.

As a result of these efforts, Taiwan has consistently ranked as a top market for U.S. corn. In 2016/2017, corn exports to Taiwan hit their highest levels in seven years at 2.94 million metric tons (116 million bushels), keeping Taiwan as the sixth largest buyer. Taiwan also set a new record last marketing year for imports of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), purchasing 264,000 tons, a 52 percent increase year-over-year.

During the mission, the Council’s leaders expressed appreciation for these long-standing working relationships and provided assurance that the supply of U.S. coarse grains and coproducts available for the Taiwanese market will be robust for decades to come.

“It has been an honor for the Council to partner with Taiwan’s companies and associations for more than four decades, and we have watched with awe as Taiwan’s food and agricultural industries flourished,” Keller said during a reception celebrating the 45th anniversary of the opening of the Council’s office in Taiwan. “The Council is proud of this partnership and is grateful for the exemplary work of our Taiwan office in sustaining such a remarkable level of cooperation.”


Maintaining a market in Japan

The Council has also served as a bridge between importers, grain processors and end-users in Japan—all important partners of the U.S. agriculture industry—since the Council first opened an office there in 1961.

Through these close relationships, the Council has contributed to the rapid growth of Japanese livestock and feed industries. In turn, these industries have become some of the best customers for U.S. coarse grains and related products.

Japan ranked as the second largest buyer of U.S. corn in 2016/2017, increasing imports nearly 30 percent year-over-year to the highest levels in nearly a decade at 13.5 million tons (nearly 533 million bushels). Japan also nearly doubled U.S. sorghum purchases to 183,000 tons (7.19 million bushels), the third largest buyer.

“Japan is now a mature and stable market for U.S. feed grains,” Stitzlein said. “The Council is committed to continuing high-level engagement with industry, trade and government to protect existing market share and looking for new growth opportunities for U.S. sorghum, barley, DDGS and ethanol.”


Evolving market strategy

The Council’s promotional efforts in both Japan and Taiwan have stayed true to the core of the organization’s approach to market development—continuing to build upon existing market share while seeking new demand opportunities as they arise. Over the years, these efforts have included promoting food sorghum and barley to health-conscious consumers, introducing DDGS as a high-quality feed ingredient and facilitating dialogue on advanced breeding techniques like biotechnology—all of which continue today.

The next frontier for USGC market development in these markets is ethanol. In Taiwan, the Council is working to establish new relationships within the energy sector and provide general informational resources to Taiwanese consumers on the economic, environmental and human health benefits of ethanol usage.

In contrast, the Council is engaged in highly technical efforts to increase the inclusion of U.S. corn-based ethanol under Japan’s new biofuels policy announced in April. The new policy includes increased carbon intensity reduction requirements for the feedstock used to make ETBE (ethyl tert-butyl ether). The new policy also recognizes the ability of corn-based, U.S.-produced ethanol to meet that goal, thanks to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, the result of improvements in production efficiency as well as the emergence and use of co-products like DDGS.

The Japanese bioethanol market has an estimated potential for around 1.5 billion gallons per year of ethanol use if Japan adopts a national E10 blending mandate.

“The Council will continue to partner with Japan as it designs and implements its new energy policy,” Stitzlein said. “We will continue to explain the benefits of reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels through the use of ethanol.”


Continuing a commitment to working together

No matter the commodity, the Council’s officers saw firsthand the importance of strong, continued relationships with key stakeholders in Japan and Taiwan. For these markets to stay large and loyal, U.S. farmers and agribusinesses must continue to invest in technical exchange between industries and provide assurances the United States is committed to these partnerships for decades to come.

“Expressing the value U.S. agriculture places on our long-time cooperation is especially important in the current trade environment,” Keller said. “Our customers want policy predictability and certainty to continue planning together for the long-term success of our trading relationship.”

This work continued even this week, as a significant delegation of Council participants joined an official mission to Japan, led by U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney. Look for reports on their discussions in future editions of Global Update.

Learn more about the Council’s work in Japan here and in Taiwan here.