South African corn misses train

23-03-2007 | |

South Africa, the biggest corn producer in Africa, missed out on a 150,000 metric-ton export order from Mexico because the state rail company didn’t have enough wagons to transport the grain, a traders association said.

The country last week shipped corn to Mexico for the first time in at least four years, exporting 27,410 mt of white corn from the port of East London on the southeast coast. Most of South Africa’s corn exports go to other countries in Africa.
“They were looking for 150,000 tons,” John Gordon, according to executive director of the South African Cereal and Oil Traders Association. However, the national rail company couldn’t provide enough trains, he added. South Africa’s rail infrastructure has attracted criticism from companies ranging from steelmakers to coal and iron ore miners, who say that it’s hindered their ability to meet their export commitments.
Mexico is boosting corn imports to try and bring down the prices of tortillas, a stable food in the country. On Jan. 12, the country’s Economy Minister, Eduardo Sojo, said it would import 650,000 tons of white corn, with 450,000 tons of that coming from the US.
Last week, South Africa also shipped 7,101 mt of white corn overland to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique, the Pretoria-based South African Grain Information Service said. Meal made from white corn is a staple food in the country.
South Africa also exported over 600 tons of yellow corn to Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho. It didn’t import any of the grain, which is used mainly as an animal feed.