CHICAGO (Reuters) - The disaster in Japan, a top buyer of U.S. corn, wheat and soybeans, will likely disrupt the country’s grain imports temporarily before a rebound, but it is too soon to forecast a timetable, the CEO of Mosaic Co (MOS.N), the world’s second-largest fertilizer producer, said Tuesday.
“It’s premature to make any hard predictions,” Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko said at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago. “I think we’ll see a short period of time where grain demand comes down.”
Prokopanko said he expects demand to rebound rapidly. “This disruption, whether it’s for weeks or whether it’s for months, it will rapidly recover,” he said.
“There’s a lot of noise out there right now about demand going down, but I think it will be an aberration,” he said.
“And once the rebuilding starts, here we go again in Asia -- more GDP growth, more demand growth for jobs and construction and raw materials, and it will just accentuate the world’s demand for basic materials,” he added.
Prokopanko noted that the hardest-hit ports were smaller ports in northern Japan that do not receive large commodity imports. But warehouses in the region were damaged.
“We have reports from customers that warehouses in north of Japan, where much of the rice is grown, have everything from water in the warehouse, to warehouses of fertilizer completely destroyed and washed away,” Prokopanko said.
He said Mosaic plans to make a financial contribution toward recovery efforts in Japan.
“They will get things cleaned up and it will surprise us how quickly they deal with this catastrophe, and they will have to continue to grow.”
Reporting by Julie Ingwersen, editing by Gerald E. McCormick