S. Africa Corn Exports May Pose Threat to Staple Food, BVG Says

South Africa, the continent’s largest producer of corn, may run out of the yellow variety if exports of the grain rise further, pushing up the cost of white corn, one of the nation’s staple foods, BVG (Pty) Ltd. said.

The nation shipped 79,055 metric tons of yellow corn in the week to June 28, including 54,112 tons to Japan and 23,043 tons to Taiwan, the Pretoria-based South African Information Service said in a statement on its website. The country has exported 377,367 tons of the grain since the start of the marketing year in May, according to Sagis. That compares with 18,333 tons in the same period a year earlier and 413,152 tons for the entire 2013 marketing year that ended in April.

“If we continue at this brisk pace, we will definitely have shortages of yellow corn,” Brink van Wyk, a trader at BVG, said by phone from Pretoria. “What we have available this year for exports of yellow corn is 1 million tons.”

South Africa uses yellow corn as animal feed, while meal made from the white variety is one of the country’s dietary staples. The country will probably consume 4.54 million tons of yellow corn and could supply 5.74 million tons in the marketing year through April, the Grain and Oilseeds Supply and Demand Estimates Committee said in its first-ever report, released on June 28.

“We either need to export less, or we use more white corn for cattle feed, or we import more yellow corn,” Van Wyk said.

Forecast Lowered

The Crop Estimates Committee cut its forecast for corn output by 0.6 percent to 11.38 million tons, it said in a June 25 report. South Africa produced 12.8 million tons in 2010, the biggest harvest since 1982.

Grain SA, the biggest representative of farmers in South Africa, says the nation has 620,000 tons of yellow corn, also known as maize, available for export.

“If the average weekly export tempo of the past eight weeks should be maintained, the remaining export maize of 321,688 tons should be exported within the next nine weeks,” the organization said in an e-mailed newsletter yesterday. “This means that the yellow maize available for export should be completed by the end of August. South Africa can potentially experience a shortage in yellow maize for the biggest part of this marketing year.”

Yellow corn for delivery in September, the most active contract, declined 0.4 percent to 2,176 rand ($220) a ton, the lowest since May 21, by the close on the South African Futures Exchange. The white variety fell 0.6 percent to 2,236 rand a ton.