By Othel V. Campos
MANILA STANDARD DAILY
Manila, Philipines - Feed millers expect a 10 percent increase in corn imports in 2007 to 232,000 mt from 216,000 mt in 2006 with the resurgence of poultry exports to Japan, sources said.
A feed mill sector official said the 10 percent hike was a conservative estimate and could rise to as much as 20 percent.
"Half of the importation would go to commercial poultry raisers now that they are back in the exportation scheme. I was informed they would import over a hundred mt," he said.
Philippine Association of Broilers Inc. president Rita Imelda Palabyab said the association would submit a request shortly to the Department of Agriculture for a tariff-free importation of corn for feeds purposes.
"We will be submitting a letter to DA Secretary Arthur Yap early next year," she said in a text message.
Corn production is expected to reach 1.74 million mt in the first quarter of 2007, up 13.6 percent increase from 1.53 million mt year-on-year.
Philippine imports of corn and wheat this year have reached 216,000 mt and 951,750 mt, respectively.
The P103.25-billion feed milling industry produced 8.6 million mt of feeds, or about 172 million bags of 50 kg each. Corn comprises half of total feed mill production. The rest are corn-substitutes such as feed wheat and soybean meal.
Earlier, the local feed milling sector expected less grain imports next year as prices of corn worldwide continued to rise.
Much of the corn production in the US and Brazil are also now focused on ethanol, with many farms expanding the acreage on corn and less on feed wheat and soybean meal.
Leading grains trader Peter Mishak, director for international trade and business development of AGP in the Chicago Board of Trade, confirmed the trend.
He said the shift of focus was pushing corn prices further up.
"This year has seen the highest corn price in 10 years from less than a dollar to a bushel to almost $4 a bushel. This is so because ethanol producers are willing to pay a premium for corn. And more farmers are willing to sell their produce for bio-fuel production that for feeds," said Mishak.
He noted that the price of Philippine corn was now competitive compared to imported corn.
Prices of domestic corn had leveled to P9.50 to P10 per kg compared to the landed cost of imported corn at P15 per kg.