Grow with the Flow: Grain & Oilseed Trade Developments

Global trade of all grains & oilseeds has grown by about 150 million tonnes in the last five years, thereby exceeding the growth of the previous five years by more than 50 percent. However, given the significant decline in prices, the value of these flows has dropped by more than 15 percent in the same period, to around USD 200 billion in 2014/15.

snippet of world G&O map

Report Summary

While US exports have been struggling lately, due to the strong US dollar, exports of emerging regions with weak currencies continue to boom. This includes Brazil—which has overtaken the US as the largest soybean exporter in the world and whose corn exports have tripled in the last five years—as well as the Black Sea Region, which continues to show strong export growth rates. The EU has also, due to very good crops in recent years, grown its grain exports by about 50 percent in the last five years.

Global imports are dominated, both in absolute and in growth terms, by Asia (43 percent of all imports), followed by the EU (12 percent), as well as North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South America and Central America, which each account for about 8 percent to 11 percent of imports, with Sub-Saharan Africa showing the strongest growth rates.

Key changes in trade origins

South American exports are growing faster than those of North America. Brazil has raised its exports by an impressive 41 million tonnes, or 73 percent, in the last five years. Soybeans and corn were the two major exported commodities, driven by strong Asian demand and, respectively, showing a doubling, as well as a tripling, in trade. The Black Sea Region also continued its production and export growth. Ukraine, Russia and the eastern EU member states each increased their grain & oilseed (G&O) exports by about 50 percent (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Global growth of G&O exports by region, 2010/11-2015/16*

Key changes in major importers

While the Americas-to-Asia (especially China) trade is the key driving factor of G&O trade flows worldwide, other destination areas like the Middle East, South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have increased their role in the last five years (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Development of global G&O import markets, 2010/11-2015/16


Global G&O trade will continue to grow, as the demand regions with the highest growth rates (i.e. Asia, the Middle East and Africa) will rely even more on imported commodities. Trade into China will be crucial, but feed grain import might face challenges in the future, as the government in China has to deal with domestic corn stocks, which have risen to massive levels, while imported feed grains so far still take on significant shares in feed.

Read more about the developments in grains & oilseeds trade in Rabobank’s industry note, Grow with the Flow: 2016 G&O Trade Developments, which accompanies our new World Grains & Oilseeds Map.

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  • Stefan Vogel

    Global Strategist - Grains & Oilseeds; Head of Agri Commodity Markets Read more
  • Vito Martielli

    Senior Analyst - Grains & Oilseeds Read more


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