March 9, 2018 / 9:08 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's JBS imports Argentine corn, eyes U.S. supply -source

(Adds sources, details on purchases, context)

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, March 9 (Reuters) - Brazilian meat processors are resorting to importing corn as local farmers hoard grains, creating parity between domestic and international prices, three industry sources told Reuters on Friday.

JBS SA, Brazil’s second-largest chicken processor, has bought 30,000 tonnes of corn from Argentina to use for feed, with delivery set for April at a port in the state of Santa Catarina, said one of the sources.

The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

The company, which had last imported corn in March 2017, is in talks for additional corn imports from Argentina and the United States for delivery starting in May, the first source said.

Brazil uses 5 million tonnes of corn monthly, 30 percent of which is consumed by JBS, listed rival BRF SA and privately owned Aurora Alimentos, that person said, adding all major processors are looking to import corn.

The two other sources said the demand for foreign corn is driven by farmers hoarding the grain and logistical obstacles between midwest growing regions and feedlots in Santa Catarina.

Santa Catarina’s proximity to Paraguay and Argentina gives local food companies an incentive to source corn from those countries instead of buying from far-off Mato Grosso, said one of those sources.

Aside from JBS, the same person said another company with large operations in Santa Catarina has been importing corn from Paraguay. The movement is likely to intensify in April as improvements are made in a logistical corridor linking Paraguayan farms to southern Brazil, that source said.

“Producers in Santa Catarina pay for more than 100,000 truck rides per year to buy corn from the farmers in the center-west region. It’s simply not economical,” said that second source.

JBS, BRF and Aurora have the capacity to slaughter about 13.5 million birds and 76,000 hogs per day, according to data compiled by poultry and pork trade group ABPA.

A working group was created within ABPA to discuss ways to improve access to corn supplies, said the third source, adding that the group talked about importing U.S. corn.

JBS referred questions to ABPA.

BRF, Aurora and ABPA declined to comment. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Brad Haynes and Phil Berlowitz )

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