Paul Herringshaw, a corn grower from Bowling Green, represented the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association as part of a high-level leadership mission to three key Asian markets – Japan, China and Vietnam – from Nov. 29 to Dec. 9 to experience an array of export challenges and opportunities for corn and processed corn products.
"We will have the opportunity to meet with several industry leaders and farmers in each of the countries that we visit. It will be most interesting to see China's impact on the world market directly," Herringshaw said before the visit. "We'll also have the opportunity to answer any questions or concerns that that these buyers and end users have about the U. S. corn crop."
The mission is an opportunity for collaborative learning, as growers gain firsthand exposure to the dynamics of developing and defending export markets and at the same time, share their insights about the supply and quality of the new U.S. corn crop with key customers.
The mission will provide an especially broad understanding of Japanese customer needs, based on a schedule that includes a full range of corn end-uses from livestock feeding and starch processing, to an ingredient in foods such as the newly introduced ramen noodles with 20% corn content.
Port tours will allow mission members to assess how infrastructure issues affect corn and corn product shipments to Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, China's Pearl River Delta and Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City.
In addition to Ohio, the mission roster includes participants from states representing more than 62% of U.S. corn production, which include Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.
"Japan is the chief U.S. corn export customer, but it is also a mature market that may be in transition," says Tom Sleight, vice president of operations at the U.S. Grains Council, which organized the mission.
"In contrast, China is the No. 1 growth market in Asia and the big variable in today's world trade environment. China's demand is potentially colossal. Vietnam is still an 'infant' market but it is a good representative of the demand developing in Southeast Asia, where the United States has struggled to gain a foothold."