SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa expects to maintain its status as a net exporter of corn in MY 2023/24 with 2.3 million metric tons (MMT) of corn exports despite the flattened planted area, the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports.

According to USDA, South Africa’s corn crop for the MY 2023/24 could reach 15.8 MMT on 2.9 million hectares (MHa), which is slightly lower than the expected corn crop of 16.2 MMT in MY 2022/23.

Moreover, Post estimates South Africa could export around 2.3 MMT of corn in MY 2023/24 and 2.5 MMT of corn in MY 2022/23 on bumper commercial corn crops

On the flattened planted area, Post attributes the current high input cost deterring any bullish outlook in expanding corn area, despite record-high commodity prices.

In addition, Post foresees a positive trend in soybean plantings in the MY 2023/24 which might also limit a possible expansion in the corn area.

The data marries with the latest forecast by Crop Estimates Committee (CEC). According to the CEC, South Africa could produce its third largest commercial corn crop on record in MY 2022/23 at 15.6 MMT on 2.6 MHa.

The CEC estimates the national average yield of 6.0 MT/ha. In detail. CEC estimated the commercial white corn crop at 8.2 MMT and the commercial yellow corn crop at 7.4 MMT.

Post foresees a 3% growth in the human consumption of corn in MY 2023/24, while corn demand for animal feed is expected to flatten.

The surge in human consumption is driven by the fact that white corn, in the form of a meal, is the staple food for many South African households as it is a relatively inexpensive source of carbohydrates amid the high levels of food inflation.

However, yellow corn, which is used as the primary ingredient for animal feed, the country is facing the deterioration of infrastructure most notably electricity costs that will hinder significant investments to increase the capacity of the broiler and feed manufacturing industries.

Post maintains its previous estimates for the commercial demand for corn in South Africa in MY 2021/22 and MY 2022/23 at 11.8 MMT and 12.0 MMT, respectively

Wheat and rice production stagnates

Wheat is the second most important grain commodity consumed in South Africa after corn. The annual per capita consumption of corn, in the form of a meal, is the highest at 90kg/person, followed by wheat (60kg/person) and then rice (16kg/person)

Post reports that South Africa’s wheat area stagnated at around 500,000 ha per annum during the past 10 years.

According to USDA, the MY 2022/23 registered a surge in wheat planted area by 8% following the Russia-Ukraine conflict that created uncertainty in the global commodity markets and pushed local wheat prices to record high levels.

Additionally, Post expects this trend to continue in MY 2023/24 with local wheat consumption marginally growing to 3.7 MMT.

The struggling domestic economy will hinder any major upsurges in the demand for wheat. Post estimates wheat demand in MY 2022/23 at 3.6 MMT, marginally higher than in MY 2021/22

Post forecasts that South Africa’s wheat and wheat products imports for MY 2023/24 will rise to 1.9 MMT as local wheat production is expected to drop by four percent.

For MY 2022/23, post estimates that wheat imports could grow by five percent to 1.85 MMT on a nine percent drop in local production.

South Africa’s exports of wheat and wheat products are also expected to reduce to approximately 250,000 MT in MY 2023/24 and MY 2022/23, due to lower local production

USDA reports that rice production is insignificant in South Africa as farmers mainly focus on planting field crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans, and sunflower

Post foresees that the marginal increases in the demand for rice will continue in MY 2022/23 and MY 2023/24 to 950,000 MT and 970,000 MT, respectively.

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