South Africa hopes its new price edge over major global corn producers will help it secure a share of China's huge grain market, a farmer's union has said.

Africa's top corn producer hopes to build on the recent export of 108,104 tonnes of yellow feed maize to China, its biggest export to the Asian country on record.

The recent export is small relative to South Africa's annual average exports of about 3 million tonnes, but could be a significant foray into the world's biggest corn market.

"The exports to China have been a long road. The 2014 export protocol signed between both governments placed South Africa in a position to export maize to China. However, South Africa only recently became price competitive against the other major exporting countries," GrainSA, which represents the country's grain producers, told Reuters.

Data supplied by GrainSA shows South African corn has been cheaper than grain from the United States, China's number one corn supplier, as well as Brazil, Argentina and the European Union since 2020, helped by a weaker rand.

"China is a consistent buyer in global markets and gaining access opens a potentially big export relationship for South Africa. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a constant exporting relationship which helps to stimulate local grain production," GrainSA added.

South Africa still has 515,162 tonnes of yellow maize exports planned for a range of markets until the beginning of July, GrainSA said.

The country expects a bumper crop of 16.19 million tonnes this year, up from 15.47 million the previous year. So far, it has exported 3.6 million tonnes of the 2022/23 corn crop.

GrainSA said the country also recently signed a soybean export protocol with China and hopes to secure a market for the crop, the production of which reached a record 2.7 million tonnes in the 2022/23 season.

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Mark Potter)