Processed Sweet Corn Situation in Selected Countries
Sweet corn production for processing in the United States in 1997 is estimated at 2.78 million metric tons, down 7 percent from the 1996 output. The decline was due mostly to an 8 percent drop in contracted area harvested (175,800 hectares or 434,400 acres).
U.S. processed sweet corn pack
U.S. production of canned sweet corn in 1997 is estimated at 1.3 million tons (545,000 tons, net weight), down 14 percent from 1996; while production of sweet corn for freezing, estimated at 1.4 million tons (389,000 tons, net weight) in 1997 was up 1 percent.
U.S. canned sweet corn exports to Asia register dramatic increase
During the first 8 months of 1997, U.S. canned sweet corn exports totaled 139,000 tons valued at $115 million, up 22 percent in volume and 24 percent in value from the same period in 1996. In recent years, Japan has been the best U.S. customer for total canned sweet corn exports. U.S. canned sweet corn exports to Asia, during this 8 month period were as follows: Japan (44,000 tons, up 28 percent); Hong Kong (15,000 tons, up 26 percent); Taiwan (17,000 tons, up 21 percent); and Korea (12,600 tons, up 116 percent). Other markets registering increases included: United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and Venezuela.
U.S. exports of frozen sweet corn during the first 8 months of 1997, totaled 44,000 tons valued at $38 million dollars, up 16 percent in volume and 15 percent in value from the previous year. Japan accounted for 64 percent of total exports and 85 percent of all sales to Asia. U.S. exports of frozen sweet corn to Canada during this same period totaled 4,100 tons, up 53 percent from a year ago.
Thai sweet corn production up dramatically
Production of canned sweet corn in Thailand in marketing year 1997/98 (July-June) is estimated at 22,500 tons, up 50 percent from the revised 1996/97 output. Because Thailand has been successful in promoting production of canned sweet corn for export in recent years, production in 1998/99 is forecast to increase about 30 percent to about 29,000 tons.
The Nithi Venture Public Company remains the largest processor in Thailand, capturing about 75-80 percent of canned sweet corn production. Production is centered in Kanchana Buri, Ratchaburi, Uthai Thani, Nakhon Sawa, and Chiang Mai provinces. Nithi Venture and the other packers source their fresh sweet corn through contract farming. Thailand's production of fresh sweet corn in 1997 is estimated 70,000 tons, up 27 percent from the previous year. Approximately 60,000 tons or 86 percent will be processed for canned sweet corn, and the balance will go into frozen corn production and fresh consumption.
Most Thais prefer fresh or cooked sweet corn to canned corn--due to its lower price
Canned corn consumption in Thailand is limited mostly to large cities, where higher income consumers can afford it, and supermarkets are available. Thais commonly use canned sweet corn in western-style foods as a salad ingredient and ice cream topping.
Export sales of canned sweet corn increase
Thailand's exports have increased significantly in recent years, due to competitive canned sweet corn price and quality. Exports are forecast to climb even higher in 1997 and 1998, as a result of recent depreciation of the Baht, anticipated strong export demand, and good potential for production expansion. Thailand is exporting canned sweet corn to more than 30 countries.
Exports account for nearly all of Thailand's frozen sweet corn production. In 1997, production of frozen sweet corn is estimated at 1,500 tons, down 5 percent from 1996.
The average fob prices for Thai canned corn in 1997 reportedly dropped to about US$7.50 to 8.00 per case (24 cans of 12 ounces size) from around US$ 8.00 per case.
Thai baby corn production and trade
Production of fresh baby corn in Thailand in 1997/98 is estimated at 54,000 tons, up 2 percent from 1996/97. Like sweet corn, fresh baby corn can be grown year round in the same areas in Thailand as sweet corn, and is harvested within 42 to 45 days from planting. Production of fresh baby corn is normally delivered for further processing, canned or frozen, or for the fresh market.
Thais prefer eating fresh baby corn to canned baby corn, although most of the canned baby corn production is for export. In 1996, exports to the United States accounted for about 38 percent of total canned baby sweet corn shipments. Other major customers include Japan, Germany, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. Exports of canned baby corn have fluctuated in recent years, due mainly to varying domestic supply availabilities.
The Thai government provides no export subsidy for the production and export of sweet corn products. Thai manufacturers of fresh and processed sweet corn are responsible for the promotion and sales of their own products (both canned and frozen). The tariff rate for imported canned corn into Thailand is 51 percent of C&F import value.
Canned sweet corn production is negligible
The supply of sweet corn in Germany is met almost entirely by imports. German exports of canned sweet corn are small, and consist mostly of transshipments.
German imports of canned sweet corn in 1997 are estimated at 55,000 tons, down 4 percent from 1996, and 7 percent from 1995. In 1996, France was the largest supplier of canned sweet corn to Germany, accounting for 42 percent of the total market, followed by the United States with 18 percent and Hungary with 16 percent. In 1996, U.S. exports of canned sweet corn to Germany totaled 10,238 tons valued at $12 million.
Germany: Canned Corn Imports, Metric Tons
Source: U.S. Agricultural Counselor, Germany.
Production of canned sweet corn up slightly
Canned sweet corn production in Japan in 1997 is estimated at 23,000 tons, up 3 percent from the revised 1996 output. Production in 1996 was down 12 percent from the previous year, due mainly to a lower corn crop. Hokkaido is Japan's largest producing region for canned sweet corn.
Production of whole kernel-type corn in 1996 dropped 9 percent to about 16,000 tons, while production of cream-type corn fell 21 percent to about 6,000 tons.
Frozen sweet corn production up moderately
Production of frozen sweet corn in Japan in 1997 is estimated at 11,000 tons, up 7 percent from the revised 1996 output, due mainly to improved yields caused by favorable weather during the growing season. In 1996, ear and kernel corn accounted for 60 and 40 percent of the total frozen corn production, respectively.
Stronger U.S. dollar causes imports of canned sweet corn into Japan to register a slight decline
Japan's imports of canned sweet corn in 1997 are estimated at 62,000 tons, down about 2 percent from the revised volume imported in 1996, due mainly to a stronger U.S. dollar. The United States continued to be the largest supplier of canned sweet corn to Japan, accounting for over 88 percent of Japan's total canned sweet corn imports for the first 6 months in 1997. Other smaller suppliers included New Zealand, 6 percent; Thailand, 3 percent; Australia, 2 percent; and France, 1 percent. Traditionally, canned sweet corn prepared or preserved, not containing added sugar, not frozen, accounts for about two-thirds of total imports.
U.S. holds its market share in Japan's frozen sweet corn market despite weaker yen
Japanese imports of frozen sweet corn in 1997 are estimated at 48,000 tons, down 2 percent from 1996, due mainly to a weaker yen. Despite a weaker yen, U.S. exports continue to account for an 80 percent plus share of Japan's frozen sweet corn market. During the first 7 months of 1997, Japan imported 23,040 tons of frozen sweet corn from the United States, which accounted for 80 percent of total imports.
Canned sweet corn is a well-established food product in the Japanese market. It is a popular and daily consumed item and is sold at practically all general merchandise retail establishments and grocery stores across Japan in various can sizes at competitive prices.
Consumption of canned sweet corn in 1997 is estimated at 83,000 tons, down 3 percent from 1996. Canned sweet corn fits well for most Japanese home-food makers, because it is easy-to-cook and, therefore, can be successfully marketed to the growing numbers of working married couples and singles "on-the-go" with long commuting times and busy urban lifestyles.
Imported frozen sweet corn is also a well established food item in Japan. The product is sold in retail and other food service channels. Typically sold in 400 gram packs, frozen sweet corn is currently retailing for 198 to 220 yen per package.
The tariff rates for imports of canned sweet corn into Japan are 11.3 percent without added sugar (HS 200580200) and 16.2 percent with added sugar (HS 200580100). The tariff rate for imports of frozen sweet corn into Japan ranges between 10 percent for (HS 200490230) and 11.6 percent for (HS 071040000).
France remains the European Union's (EU) leading producer of sweet corn
In 1996, French production of canned sweet corn accounted for 84 percent of total EU production, estimated at 115,565 tons, net weight, while frozen sweet corn production accounted for 66 percent of the EU's production, at 27,300 tons. There are approximately 2,000 sweet corn producers in France, located mainly in the southwestern region. The harvesting season for sweet corn is from mid-July to early September.
In marketing year 1997/98 (July-June), French canned sweet corn production is estimated at 115,000 tons net weight, down 1 percent from the previous season, due mainly to expected lower yields. There are 9 sweet corn canners in France: Ardovries, Avril, Bonduelle, Cecab, Cirio, Otra, Legum'land, Nestle and Geant Vert.
France, a net exporter of canned sweet corn since 1989
French canned sweet corn exports in 1997/98 are forecast at 93,000 tons, up 8 percent from 1996/97, due mostly to increasing international demand. Germany and the United Kingdom are France's leading export markets, accounting for about 30 and 25 percent of total exports in 1996.
French imports in 1997/98 are forecast at 12,000 tons, up 30 percent from the previous season, due mostly to increased domestic consumption. In 1996/97, the United States became France's leading supplier of canned sweet corn, accounting for 41 percent of total shipments. U.S. exports of canned sweet corn to France were triggered by the low dollar exchange rate. Because of higher exchange rates this season, U.S. sweet corn shipments are expected to be lower than in 1996/97.
Unlike in the United States, where most sweet corn is consumed fresh or canned, the bulk of sweet corn consumed in the EU is canned or frozen.
Total French consumption of canned sweet corn in marketing year 1997/98 is forecast at 38,850 tons, up 2 percent from 1996/97.
Market opportunity for U.S. canned sweet corn
In France, supermarket promotions for U.S. food products are good opportunities to further promote U.S. sweet corn so that French consumers can try a different product, considering that domestic consumption continues to grow. In 1998, supermarket promotions are planned at Auchan hypermarkets and Monoprix supermarkets.
There are no import restrictions for canned sweet corn imports into France. However, the product must be free of L. tryptophane amino acid. Labels for canned food products packed in liquid must indicate the net weight, as well as the drained weight in metric units.
From July 1 to December 31, 1997, imports of canned sweet corn into France are subject to a customs duty of 6.6 percent ad valorem, plus specific levies for imports of canned sweet corn from third countries amounting to 12.1 ECU's per 100 kilograms, net weight. As a result of the Uruguay Round Negotiations, customs duties and levies for imports of canned sweet corn from third countries are slated to decrease by 6 percent, per year, dropping to 5.1 percent ad valorem and 9.4 ECU's per 100 kilograms by the year 2000.
Although processed as a vegetable, sweet corn is grown like a cereal and therefore the same EU regulations apply as for any other grain. Consequently, EU sweet corn production benefits from the same direct subsidies that EU feed corn production receives under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform.
U.S. canned sweet corn exports take lion's share of Taiwanese market
Taiwan imports of canned sweet corn in 1996 totaled 20,840 tons, up 17 percent from the previous year. Imports from the United States accounted for a 99 percent market share. Thailand, Australia and Canada were the other smaller suppliers who shared the remaining 1 percent.
Imports of frozen sweet corn into Taiwan in 1996 totaled 3,667 tons, unchanged from the year earlier. According to Taiwan canned corn importers, a U.S. company, supplies approximately 70 percent of the total canned sweet corn market, and its "Green Giant" label is the dominant brand. Haw Di, a Taiwan food company, is the other major supplier, which has contracted private label service with U.S. companies to produce canned sweet corn for its "Bull's Head" brand in Taiwan market.
The import tariffs for processed sweet corn into Taiwan are 25 percent, CIF, for frozen and 17.5 percent, CIF, for canned.
U.K. imports all of its canned sweet corn needs
There is no domestic production of canned corn in the United Kingdom. However, small amounts of fresh sweet corn are grown and consumed on the cob.
In 1997, canned sweet corn imports into the United Kingdom are estimated at 41,000 tons, down 6 percent from 1996. In 1997, France is expected to account for approximately 43 percent of U.K.'s total imports, followed by the United States (19 percent), Canada (18 percent) and Thailand (9 percent).
Distribution channels of sweet corn in U.K.
The distribution of sweet corn in the United Kingdom is divided between the food service industry (30 percent of market) and retail outlets (70 percent). At the retail level, the market includes mainly generic product labels, which are priced below its branded competition. However, the supermarkets seek to establish prices in advance and allow profit margins to fluctuate in response to changes in import/wholesale prices.
Consumers in the United Kingdom prefer canned sweet corn over frozen sweet corn
U.K.'s consumer preference of canned sweet corn over frozen is mainly due to cheaper price and smaller pack sizes. In the canned vegetable market sweet corn has gained market share at the expense of other vegetables, such as the historical leader, canned peas.
Canned sweet corn imported into the United Kingdom is governed by the 1990 Food Safety Act which regulates all trading of food in England. This act deals with both food safety and consumer protection. Also, product packaging must adhere to EU labeling legislation. Canned corn produced as "own-labels" brands will have labeling that adheres to this legislation as the labels are designed by the U.K. supermarkets.
Imports of canned sweet corn from the United States are subject to an import duty of 7 percent (down from 7.5 percent) plus a variable charge of US$16.18 per 100 kilograms, effective October 15, 1996, tarrif code 2005800000.
Thailand: Exports of canned Sweet Corn, Calendar Year, Metric tons
Source: U.S. Attache Thailand. N/A=Not Available.
For further information on supply, distribuion an trade contact Emanuel McNeil at (202) 720-2083. For information on U.S. marketing opportunities, contact Gina Castelnovo at (202) 720-0898.