Changes in Brazil's main corn exporting corridors could have implications for the nation's ability to compete with the United States, according to Alfredo Navarro, the U.S. Grains Council country representative.
Navarro, who tracks Brazil's export logistics and port use, already sees an evolving pattern in the 2001 to 2011 period.
"In 2001, no corn was exported through the North corridor ports of Manaus, Santarem and Sao Luiz," Navarro said. "By 2007, 1.1 percent of Brazil's corn was shipped through Manaus, and last year 8.4 percent of the corn shipped from northern ports.
In the first part of 2012, shipments from the northern ports were 31.7 percent of total volume, a sharp increase from the same period in 2011.
"That is small compared to the potential in the region and the number of hectares planted," Navarro continued, attributing the disparity to inadequate infrastructure for port access. "The government has not realized how much Brazil's poor transportation network affects competitiveness."
The data also shows a startling export shift to Brazil's southeastern ports of Espirito Santo and Sao Paulo, which shot from a 4.8 percent share of corn exports to 59 percent by 2011. Brazil's southern ports (Parana, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul) dropped from a near monopoly (95.1 percent in 2001) to a 32.5 percent share of corn exports in 2011.
Navarro's tracking also looks at inland supply routes that access Brazil's ports, where he noted that funds allocated for improvements have not been spent as intended, and corruption has delayed key construction projects.
At the same time however, Brazil is seeing more private investments to improve infrastructure and export reliability.
(Meanwhile, U.S. ag interests are calling for an update in ports located in this country in order to keep pace in the export race. For that report, click here).