BIG EU MAIZE IMPORTS SEEN
Analysts forecast a sharp rise in EU maize imports this season after a poor 2012 harvest. Strategie Grains expects maize imports of 11.6 million tonnes against 6.3 million last season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts 8 million tonnes.
EU maize imports licences have soared to 6.0 million tonnes between July 2012 and last week against 2.9 million tonnes this time a year ago.
"Ukraine is viewed as the most likely origin as their supplies are still available and have the least problems with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) but I would also expect large corn imports from Brazil and Argentina when their new corn crops gather speed in early 2013," a trader said.
Britain has seen a sharp rise in maize imports from outside the European Union with 167,141 tonnes imported since July 1, more than double the volume in the same year-ago period.
British dealers said the early season maize imports were from Ukraine although buyers may switch to South America later in the season.
Maize has been cheaper that feed wheat for most of the year, one British dealer said, adding most of the maize so far had been bought by the livestock industry in Northern Ireland.
Italy's maize imports have also risen strongly in recent months, said an official at Italian national cereals association Anacer.
"Maize imports into Italy are rising because Italian production is not sufficient," he said. "We had a small harvest and so there is a need to import from abroad."
"We also had problems with maize quality, all across Europe. So they (consumers) are importing more from non-EU countries." (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris, Nigel Hunt in London and Catherine Hornby in Rome; editing by James Jukwey)