Two sources -- the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) -- are predicting a record corn harvest for the US this year, according to WattAgnet.com. FAPRI, a think tank based at the University of Missouri, puts the crop number at 13.916 billion bushels, reports a Reuters article, a 6% increase over the previous record set in 2009 (and based on the second largest plantings since World War II).
USDA's prediction is even higher: a 14.27 billion bushel harvest from 94 million acres of corn planted. This good news comes after below-normal yields in both 2010 and 2011. The agency is projecting 2012/2013 end stocks of 1.616 billion bushels vs. FAPRI's estimate of 1.346 billion bushels.
Why is this good news, including for petfood manufacturers? Because the large harvest will help build stockpiles and drive down prices of this commodity, used as an ingredient in many petfood formulations. If FAPRI's projection comes true, corn prices will average US$4.81 a bushel at the farm gate, a very welcome decline from US$5.96/bushel for the 2011 crop, Reuters says. (It doesn't hurt that growth in US production of corn-based ethanol has slowed.)
Further, both FAPRI and USDA estimate plantings of the US's eight major crops -- including other petfood ingredients like wheat, barley, oats, rice and sorghum -- will increase by 2%, or about 5 million acres, this year. That's the largest total since 1998, according to USDA data. (See a chart here.)
You can find out more about commodity ingredient availability and pricing during Petfood Forum 2012, April 2-4 at the Renaissance Schaumburg near Chicago, Illinois, USA, when Susan Sutherland, associate director of agricultural products for the CME Group, and Bob Bresnahan, CEO of Trilateral (a commodity ingredient purchasing and risk management advisor), will share short- and long-term projections and recommendations for dealing with the commodity market's volatility. (Online registration for Petfood Forum is still available.)