Mexico’s 2020/21 corn outlook endangered by drought fears: GCMA

28 Apr 2021 | Juan Pedro Tomas

Mexico has set a new record for corn imports in the first quarter of the year, with the step up in inbound volumes coming as analysts within the country fear dry conditions could lead to smaller domestic production this year. 

Currently, Mexico’s 2020/21 corn production is forecast to reach 27 million mt but drought conditions in certain areas of the country could see that figure cut, Abel Rodriguez Montejo, an analyst with local consultancy firm Grupo Consultor de Mercados Agricolas (GCMA), has told Agricensus.

“Drought conditions have been particularly impacting Sinaloa state, which is Mexico’s largest corn producer. We initially expected corn production of 5.4 million mt in Sinaloa but we now estimate... 4.85 million mt due to lower-than-expected yields,” the analyst said.

Drought conditions have also negatively impacted other key regions such as Tamaulipas, he added.

Rodriguez Montejo said that GCMA is now expecting Mexico, which is one of the world’s biggest corn importers, to import a total of 17.6 million mt for full 2021, a 0.7% increase versus their February import estimate of 17.47 million mt.

That comes amid news that the country imported 4.22 million mt of corn in the first quarter of the year, a record for the period, according to the analyst.

“Almost all of the imported corn in the first quarter came from the United States despite the current high prices. Only 60,000 mt was imported from Brazil,” the analyst said, with the US currently expected to seal its biggest export year in history with up to 70 million mt of corn expected to be exported.

Mexico imported 16.06 million mt of corn in 2020, down 1.1% from the 16.24 million mt imported in 2019, according to GCMA, with most of it - some 14.04 million mt coming from the US.

The country is largely self-sufficient in white corn but depends on imports of mostly GMO yellow corn from the US for livestock feed.

The government of Mexico decreed at the end of December that it wants to eliminate the use of glyphosate and genetically modified corn from the domestic market and is working with local producers in order to meet that target through a process of gradual substitution.

For the 2020/21 crop cycle, the USDA has forecast Mexico’s corn production at 27.8 million mt, and imports of 16.5 million mt.