Chinese companies increase competition for grains in Brazil -analyst

SAO PAULO, June 16 (Reuters) - The larger presence of Chinese commodities companies in Brazil has increased competition for grains and is one factor behind a recent corn shortage, a leading consultant said on Thursday.

“We have seen more competition for grains in the center-west, where the Chinese now have storage space,” MB Associados partner José Roberto Mendonça de Barros said during a presentation at the BM&F Bovespa agricultural outlook seminar. “That partly explains the corn problem.”

A heavy flow of Brazilian corn exports last year, helped by a weak currency, sharply reduced local supplies this year. As a result, poultry and pork processors had to import the grain.

A recent analysis of shipping data by Reuters found that Asian trading houses, including China’s state-owned COFCO , had bought 45 percent of Brazil’s soybean, corn and soybean meal exports last year.

In April, Brazilian grains company Fiagril Participações SA sold a controlling stake to China’s Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming Co Ltd, a unit of Shanghai Pengxin Group Co.

Barros said the increased competition was healthy for producers, but meat companies would have to adjust.

“(Meat processors) were accustomed to seeing a bag of corn in Mato Grosso costing as much as a sandwich,” he said.

Barros also said increased local competition had hurt traditional international grain traders such as Bunge Ltd and Archer Daniels Midland Co. (Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)