USGC-Developingcountrieshol.cfm USGC: Developing countries hold opportunities for U.S. farmers
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USGC: Developing countries hold opportunities for U.S. farmers

The current global economic situation is causing a great deal of uncertainty in U.S. agriculture, from ethanol to exports. U.S. Grains Council international directors and consultants presented to more than 200 attendees at the Council's 6th International Marketing Conference and 49th Annual Membership Meeting in Guatemala City, Guatemala about the state of the economy in their respective countries as well as the potential for U.S. grains in those markets. The purchasing power of consumers is weakening, thus pushing the consumption of meat, milk and eggs down in many countries such as Mexico, Japan, Korea and China. However, less developed countries like Morocco, Iraq and Turkey are seeing a more stable economic situation, which may create expanded opportunities for U.S. farmers.

"We see very stable demand for U.S. grains in 2009," said Kurt Shultz, USGC director in the Mediterranean and Africa. "Tourism is the key, currently. If Europeans stop spending tourism dollars in North Africa, we may start seeing the impact of the global economic crisis. As of yet, the impact has been minimal and the economy is very stable. This is good news for U.S. producers."

Joe O'Brien, USGC director in the Middle East and Subcontinent, said consumers in this region have been "relatively untouched" by any economic woes. Specifically, citizens have benefited from higher salaries mostly mandated by the government and so far income for most consumers has remained stable.

"Consumers aren't facing massive layoffs, foreclosures and so forth like we are seeing in the United States," O'Brien said. "Lower input costs for the livestock and poultry industries have increased the production of meat, milk and eggs, encouraging expansion. There is a surprisingly large amount of optimism in terms of the economy in the Middle East. The purchasing power is there and U.S. farmers have a great deal of opportunity in these markets."

Despite challenges for more developed countries, Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan, said coarse grain imports from the United States will continue to be strong.

"Consumers have to eat. They will purchase less expensive protein products but the demand for feed grains will continue to be consistent with last year," Hamamoto said. Coarse grain imports from the United States in 2009 and 2010 will remain around 19 million metric tons. Japan's livestock and poultry industries prefer U.S. grains because of the high quality and reliable supply."


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