Ethanol and the Corn Supply-Demand Picture

Cindy Zimmerman

According to USDA, global corn production for 2011/12 is projected at a new record high of 867.5 million tons, despite a smaller crop here in the U.S.

global cornThe latest World Agricultural Supply Demand report estimates the U.S. crop was down 3.5 million tons this year compared to last year, but foreign corn production is expected to be 43.4 million tons higher, with China alone up 7.3 million tons this month based on the recently released government estimates. USDA is now predicting the 2011/12 season-average farm price for corn will be about 30 cents lower than previous estimates at $5.90 to $6.90 per bushel.

On the demand side, corn for food, seed, and industrial use was lowered 5 million bushels and projected corn ending stocks were increased by 5 million bushels to 848 million. Corn for ethanol use remains unchanged at 5 billion bushels, which is slightly lower than last year, despite the fact that ethanol production this year is on pace to possibly be as much as a billion gallons more than 2010.

As we head into 2012, ethanol is like to be the wild card in the corn demand situation with the expiration of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) at the end of this year. “That could potentially change how much ethanol is blended into gasoline,” said USDA chief economist Joe Glauber. “There are mandates in terms of overall production that has to be blended into gasoline, the issue is how much gets produced above and beyond the mandates.” However, industry analysts expect ethanol prices are expected to drop 30-40 cents per gallon at the wholesale level after the blenders tax credit expires, which should serve as an incentive to blend as much if not more.

“Domestically, it will depend on the profitability of ethanol price versus gasoline and whether or not it pays to blend above the mandates,” said Glauber.

corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, USDA