China ordered 21 million bushels of U.S. corn in July, more than the U.S. allotted for exports to China in all of 2011, as the country's pork market and middle class both grow.
China has bought another 2.2 million bushels of corn from the U.S. so far in August, and the country became a net importer of corn for the first time in 15 years in 2010. Some U.S. economists believe that China might become the biggest foreign buyer of U.S. corn within five to 10 years, taking the spot from Japan, which bought 610 million bushels of U.S. corn in 2010. "We think this is the inflection point," said Brian Schouvieller, a grain marketing executive at CHS Inc. "We believe that, from now, China is going to be a steady buyer."
Current U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates suggest that China will import 79 million bushels of corn from all sources in the 2011-2012 crop year.