US reserves of corn have hit their lowest level in more than 15 years, reflecting tighter supplies that will lead to higher food prices in 2011. Increasing demand for corn from the ethanol industry is a major reason for the decline.
The US Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday that the ethanol industry's projected orders this year rose 8.4 percent, to 13.01 billion bushels, after record-high production in December and January.
That means the United States will have about 675 million bushels of corn left over at the end of year. That's roughly 5 percent of all corn that will be consumed, the lowest surplus level since 1996.