Johannesburg - Two cargo ships of yellow maize from Romania are en route to the Western Cape for unloading, the head of producer group Grain SA said on Tuesday.
“Our understanding is that there are two cargo shipments on their way to the Western Cape. It’s yellow maize from Romania for the feed (livestock) industry in that province,” Jannie de Villiers, Grain SA’s chief executive, told Reuters. He gave no details on the size of the cargoes.
South Africa has been harvesting bumper maize crops but because of export commitments, Grain SA estimates it may have to import a combined 700 000 tonnes of white and yellow maize to make up for expected shortfalls in the current marketing year which ends on April 30.
The March white maize contract ended over 3% higher on Tuesday at R2 644.00/tonne and the prospects that South Africa may have to import could put further pressure on prices and domestic inflation.
De Villiers said imports might still be required early into the next marketing season, as late rains meant the planting for the 2011/12 season was done later than usual which will delay the harvesting of the crop and deliveries from the fields.
South Africa’s maize stocks fell to 4.178 million tonnes at the end of November, compared with a revised 5.082 million tonnes at the end of October, data showed in late December.
The stocks included 2.762 million tonnes of white maize and 1.416 million tonnes of yellow, the South African Grain Information Service said in its monthly bulletin. It said total exports reached 1.991 million tonnes at the end of November.
A global supply crunch and the relative cheapness of South African corn has opened up new export markets for its maize such as South Korea and Mexico.
Traditional regional export markets have shrunk in recent years because of healthy harvests in countries such as Zambia and Malawi.
Romania is one of the European Union’s top maize producers but South Africa has not historically been a market for its exports.