Best Global Markets for Buying Imported Corn

A widely consumed whole grain cereal, corn is a healthy source of fiber, vitamins B and C, potassium and thiamine. The tasty fresh vegetable is also high in antioxidants as well as natural sugars and starches.

Corn is a staple food grown around the globe. Total domestic production of corn surpasses rice and wheat.

Not only is it a welcome addition to most meals, corn has other uses such as in livestock feed, biofuel and industrial raw materials.

Worldwide, imported corn was worth US$39.3 billion in 2020. That dollar amount reflects a 22.3% increase from $32.1 billion for 2016. From 2019 to 2020, the value of globally imported corn flatlined via a 0.1% gain.

The $39.3 billion spent on imported corn in 2020 compares to $25.9 billion for imported rice and $47.4 billion for imported wheat.

The 5 most lucrative consumer markets for importing corn purchased over a third (34.7% of the global total). The major markets for imported corn are Japan (8.4% of the global total), Mexico (7.9%), China (6.3%), Vietnam (6.1%) and South Korea (6%).

Among these 5 key import markets for corn, the greatest buying increase from 2019 to 2020 was the 134.6% acceleration generated by importers in mainland China. The other 2 gains were the 3.9% increase for Vietnam and the 0.8% uptick for South Korea.

The 2 declines year over year belong to Japan (down -6.5%) and Mexico (down -3.3%). By comparing changes in consumer demand for imported corn by buyer country highlighted in this article, researchers can uncover the most compelling opportunities for selling corn and related products and services on international markets.

Corn is a Consumer Convenience Product

Corn satisfies the criteria of a consumer good (also called an end product) created for consumers to buy in its final form to satisfy their eating needs. In contrast, products like turbojets are usually purchased by companies or government entities rather than individuals.

Economists classify corn as convenience products, a technical classification for goods that are easily accessed and purchased relatively often. Many shoppers buy corn on weekly or even daily trips to their favorite grocery stores.

Based on statistics from EatByDate.com, fresh corn can last from 5 to 7 days when kept in the refrigerator. The same storage limit of about 7 days also applies to cooked corn.

Imported Corn Bought by Country

The sortable table below showcases marketing intelligence for the top 100 buyers of corn, ranked in descending order starting with the greatest annual sales amount at the 4-digit Harmonized System (HS) code level. For corn, the HS code prefix is 1005.

Also shown is each import country’s percentage of the global total purchases for imported corn in 2020, as well as the change in those sales from 2019 to 2020.

RankImporterUS$%Total2019-20
1Japan$3,294,930,0008.4%-6.5%
2Mexico$3,086,058,0007.9%-3.3%
3China$2,490,317,0006.3%+134.6%
4Vietnam$2,402,234,0006.1%+3.9%
5South Korea$2,370,922,0006%+0.8%
6Egypt$1,880,862,0004.8%-2.5%
7Spain$1,653,435,0004.2%-15%
8Netherlands$1,310,244,0003.3%-3.3%
9Colombia$1,221,505,0003.1%+6.7%
10Italy$1,197,357,0003%-5.1%
11Iran$1,087,324,0002.8%-28.5%
12Germany$974,859,0002.5%-13.7%
13Taiwan$888,505,0002.3%-9.3%
14Algeria$832,079,0002.1%-3.5%
15Malaysia$791,603,0002%+0.5%
16Peru$779,365,0002%-2.2%
17Saudi Arabia$654,188,0001.7%-8.5%
18United Kingdom$607,703,0001.5%-1.2%
19Chile$572,603,0001.5%+21.7%
20Morocco$567,973,0001.4%+4.3%
21Turkey$485,439,0001.2%-42.7%
22Canada$453,977,0001.2%-13.6%
23Belgium$425,529,0001.1%+9.3%
24Bangladesh$397,863,0001.0%+72.8%
25Portugal$377,647,0001.0%-8.8%
26Romania$363,961,0000.9%+89.3%
27Israel$357,614,0000.9%+5.3%
28United States$337,389,0000.9%-9.1%
29France$311,744,0000.8%+4%
30Guatemala$307,392,0000.8%+9.5%
31Zimbabwe$298,675,0000.8%+867.2%
32Thailand$286,053,0000.7%+77.5%
33Ireland$267,244,0000.7%-13.9%
34Dominican Republic$260,424,0000.7%-10.3%
35Austria$232,405,0000.6%-8%
36Venezuela$226,608,0000.6%+13.8%
37Philippines$212,516,0000.5%+46%
38Brazil$203,078,0000.5%+1.9%
39Costa Rica$194,135,0000.5%+0.8%
40Poland$191,280,0000.5%+19.3%
41Tunisia$174,591,0000.4%-9.4%
42Indonesia$172,649,0000.4%-18.8%
43Jordan$163,128,0000.4%+0.9%
44Greece$155,620,0000.4%-3.8%
45El Salvador$147,636,0000.4%-13.2%
46Libya$137,188,0000.3%+37.2%
47Iraq$135,736,0000.3%-19.1%
48Honduras$132,738,0000.3%-8.6%
49Russia$132,704,0000.3%+22.6%
50Hungary$129,187,0000.3%-11.6%
51Nepal$120,724,0000.3%-2.5%
52Lebanon$117,833,0000.3%+8.7%
53Yemen$114,794,0000.3%+5%
54Ukraine$105,443,0000.3%-20.7%
55United Arab Emirates$94,519,0000.2%-14.7%
56Panama$91,361,0000.2%-4.3%
57Nigeria$87,080,0000.2%+501.7%
58Nicaragua$84,418,0000.2%+44%
59Denmark$73,832,0000.2%-41.5%
60Senegal$73,039,0000.2%+0.8%
61Kenya$68,814,0000.2%+13.4%
62Czech Republic$66,281,0000.2%-12.3%
63Cambodia$65,397,0000.2%+59.7%
64India$64,701,0000.2%-15.4%
65Lithuania$60,946,0000.2%-10.7%
66Botswana$59,537,0000.2%+20.4%
67Mozambique$57,025,0000.1%+19.2%
68Pakistan$56,662,0000.1%+8.8%
69Bulgaria$56,604,0000.1%+13%
70Slovakia$55,976,0000.1%+7.9%
71Cyprus$53,266,0000.1%-11.2%
72Oman$52,228,0000.1%-4.1%
73Paraguay$51,214,0000.1%+14%
74Uruguay$51,211,0000.1%-16.4%
75Belarus$50,265,0000.1%-42.9%
76Jamaica$49,814,0000.1%-20.1%
77Syrian Arab Republic$48,079,0000.1%-22.4%
78Slovenia$46,064,0000.1%+20.9%
79Ecuador$44,459,0000.1%-5.4%
80Cuba$44,060,0000.1%-69.8%
81Switzerland$42,754,0000.1%-0.7%
82Namibia$41,178,0000.1%-19.9%
83Eswatini$37,644,0000.1%+26.6%
84Bosnia/Herzegovina$37,249,0000.1%+2.5%
85South Africa$35,982,0000.1%-72.8%
86Croatia$35,694,0000.1%-15.6%
87Myanmar$32,478,0000.1%-7.2%
88Ethiopia$31,075,0000.1%-35.1%
89New Zealand$27,883,0000.1%-56.4%
90Tanzania$27,112,0000.1%-32.9%
91Mauritius$26,632,0000.1%+6.9%
92Moldova$25,023,0000.1%+57.7%
93Kuwait$24,954,0000.1%-45%
94Georgia$24,079,0000.1%+30.9%
95Qatar$22,186,0000.1%+35.6%
96Albania$20,674,0000.1%+2.3%
97Latvia$19,188,0000.05%+3.1%
98Trinidad/Tobago$18,922,0000.05%+21.5%
99Uzbekistan$17,614,0000.04%-11.3%
100Democr. Rep. Congo$17,199,0000.04%+18.2%

Among the 100 strongest global markets, 47 countries increased their spending on imported corn from 2019 to 2020. The 7 greatest percentage gains year over year were posted by Zimbabwe (up 867.2%), Nigeria (up 501.7%), China (up 134.6%), Romania (up 89.3%), Thailand (up 77.5%), Bangladesh (up 72.8%) and Cambodia (up 59.8%).

Leading percentage declines for the remaining 53 top corn-importing countries was South Africa via a -72.8% annual drop.

Significant reductions in corn imports by value were also registered by Cuba (down -69.8%), New Zealand (down -56.4%), Kuwait (down -45%), Belarus (down -42.9%), Turkey (down -42.7%) and Denmark (down -41.5%).

Richest Global Markets for Imported Corn

Illustrated below is the market demand for corn imported during 2020 by 30 of world’s richest countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person, according to RichestCountryReports.com.

Countries are listed in descending order starting with the wealthiest economy in terms of GDP per capita.

  1. Luxembourg: US$9.3 million (Up 7.5% from 2019)
  2. Singapore: $2.7 million (Down -49.8%)
  3. Ireland: $267.2 million (Down -13.9%)
  4. Qatar: $22.2 million (Up 35.6%)
  5. Switzerland: $42.8 million (Down -0.7%)
  6. Norway: $16.7 million (Up 12.3%)
  7. United States: $337.4 million (Down -9.1%)
  8. Brunei Darussalam: $1.2 million (Up 17.5%)
  9. Hong Kong: $4.9 million (Down -7.6%)
  10. Denmark: $73.8 million (Down -41.5%)
  11. Netherlands: $1.3 billion (Down -3.3%)
  12. United Arab Emirates: $94.5 million (Down -14.7%)
  13. Taiwan: $888.5 million (Down -9.3%)
  14. Iceland: $5.5 million (Up 2.5%)
  15. Austria: $232.4 million (Down -8%)
  16. Germany: $974.9 million (Down -13.7%)
  17. Sweden: $16.7 million (Down -43.9%)
  18. Australia: $3.7 million (Down -43.7%)
  19. Belgium: $425.5 million (Up 9.3%)
  20. Finland: $5.4 million (Down -6.8%)
  21. Canada: $454 million (Down -13.6%)
  22. Bahrain: $543,000 (Down -89%)
  23. France: $311.7 million (Up 4%)
  24. Saudi Arabia: $654.2 million (Down -8.5%)
  25. United Kingdom: $607.7 million (Down -1.2%)
  26. South Korea: $2.4 billion (Up 0.8%)
  27. Malta: $10.4 million (Up 13.8%)
  28. Japan: $3.3 billion (Down -6.5%)
  29. New Zealand: $27.9 million (Down -56.4%)
  30. Italy: $1.2 billion (Down -5.1%)

Among the above wealthiest economies per capita, 10 spent more on imported corn in 2020 compared to 2019. Four of these nations posted double-digit gains in their imports of corn: Qatar (up 35.6%), Brunei Darussalam (up 17.5%), Malta (up 13.8%) and Norway (up 12.3%).

Registering the severest declines in their annual purchases of imported corn were: Bahrain (down -89%), New Zealand (down -56.4%), Singapore (down -49.8%), Sweden (down -43.9%), Australia (down -43.7%) and Denmark (down -41.5%).

Japan’s Demand for Imported Corn

In 2020, densely populated Japan retained its crown as the world’s biggest market for imported corn sales. Japanese demand for imported corn was worth $3.3 billion in US dollars.

Japan’s 5 biggest corn suppliers (United States, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, France) supplied the greatest share (99.7%) of total Japanese purchases of corn from international markets.

The following 15 countries benefited the most from selling imported corn to customers in Japan during 2020.

  1. United States: US$2.1 billion (63.9% of Japanese total)
  2. Brazil: $1.1 billion (34.3%)
  3. South Africa: $29.1 million (0.9%)
  4. Russia: $15.4 million (0.5%)
  5. France: $7 million (0.2%)
  6. Peru: $2.33 million (0.1%)
  7. India: $2.27 million (0.1%)
  8. Argentina: $1.5 million (0.04%)
  9. Chile: $1.2 million (0.04%)
  10. New Zealand: $886,000 (0.03%)
  11. Germany: $478,000 (0.01%)
  12. Indonesia: $328,000 (0.01%)
  13. Thailand: $262,000 (0.01%)
  14. Italy: $195,000 (0.01%)
  15. Turkey: $147,000 (0.004%)

The above 15 international providers sold 99.9% of the $3.3 billion worth of imported corn delivered to the Land of the Rising Sun during 2020.

Year over year, the fastest-growing suppliers of corn to Japanese buyers from 2019 to 2020 were South Africa (up 2,756%), Italy (up 298%) and Chile (up 45.2%).

Unit Costs for Japan’s Major Corn Suppliers

Japan paid a wide range of unit costs per ton of imported corn in 2020, depending on the corn shipper’s country of origin.

Below, you will find the average unit price that Japanese importers paid to 15 of the top suppliers of corn to the Japan in 2020. They are presented in descending order starting with the nations that supplied the highest total dollar value worth of corn that the Land of the Rising Sun bought on international markets.

  1. United States: US$210 per ton (down -5.8% from 2019)
  2. Brazil: $204 (down -3.8%)
  3. South Africa: $192 (down -15.4%)
  4. Russia: $227 (up 5.6%)
  5. France: $5,524 (up 1%)
  6. Peru: $1,956 (down -6.1%)
  7. India: $395 (down -8.6%)
  8. Argentina: $195 (down -5.3%)
  9. Chile: $6,200 (up 33.6%)
  10. New Zealand: $7,911 (up 13.8%)
  11. Germany: $6,732 (down -1%)
  12. Indonesia: $499 (up 12.1%)
  13. Thailand: $2,165 (down -69.7%)
  14. Italy: $7,800 (up 75.1%)
  15. Turkey: $5,444 (no 2019 data)

The lowest unit costs per ton of corn imported into Japan belong to suppliers in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, United States of America, Russia and India.

Japanese importers pay the highest unit price per ton of corn to suppliers in New Zealand, Italy, Germany and Chile.

From 2019 to 2020, there were 6 gainers in terms of unit cost per ton charged by top corn suppliers to Japan. Specifically, these increases belong to Italy (up 75.1%), Chile (up 33.6%), New Zealand (up 13.8%), Indonesia (up 12.1%), Russia (up 5.6%) and France (up 1%).

World’s Biggest Corn-Growing Countries

Below, you will find the world’s 6 leading countries for producing corn domestically. Amounts shown are in metric tons.

  1. United States: 346 million metric tons
  2. China: 260.8 million metric tons
  3. Brazil: 102 million metric tons
  4. Argentina: 51 million metric tons
  5. Ukraine: 35.9 million metric tons
  6. India: 26 million metric tons

Most of the above countries have comparatively large amounts of farmland on which to grow corn.

Also, please note that the 27-member European Union grew 66.74 million metric tons of corn in 2020.

See also

More great research: Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Diamonds, Most Valuable Markets for Selling Imported Sugar, Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Coffee, Top Global Markets for Buying Imported Potato Chips, Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Wine

References

Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.

BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.

Eat By Date, How Long Does Corn Last?.

Forbes, The Forbes Global 2000 List.

International Trade Centre, Trade Map.

Investopedia, Consumer Goods, Consumer Staples Definition, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), The World’s 6 Biggest Corn Producers

Just Fun Facts, Interesting facts about corn.

Richest Country Reports, Top 50 Richest Countries by GDP per Capita.

United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade State Data.

USITC DataWeb, US Merchandise Trade: Imports for Consumption.

Value Today, World Top Corn Companies List by Market Cap.

Wikipedia, Maize.

World’s Top Exports, Corn Imports by Country.

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