Record soybean imports forecast for China

Growth in China’s swine and poultry sectors are forecast to push the country’s imports of soybeans in the 2016-17 marketing year up to 86.0 million metric tons.

xrayphoto | Bigstock.com
xrayphoto | Bigstock.com

Growth in China’s swine and poultry sectors are forecast to push the country’s imports of soybeans in the 2016-17 marketing year up to 86.0 million metric tons (mmt), according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). If that volume is reached, it will be a record.

Compared with the previous year’s figure of 82.5 mmt, that would represent an annual increase of more than 4.2 percent.

FAS warns that, despite signs of recovery in the pig meat sector and continuing growth in poultry meat production in China, the rate of increase in this trade is likely to slow in future. Local soybean production is set to recover and the country’s abundant stocks of soybeans and rapeseed oil are released to supply the food market.

On the other hand, oilseed product imports may be pushed up to some extent as China has imposed duties on imported distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) as the result of alleged dumping.

In August, China’s National Development and Reform Commission set a target for total oilseed production – soybean, rapeseed, peanut and camellia – at 59.8 mmt by 2020. Up from 45.4 mmt in 2014, the increase was to be achieved by greater acreage and higher yields.

According to the FAS, it is uncertain whether the target will be achieved as Chinese government policy has long-favored national production and supply security for grains. However, it adds “a steady growth of domestic oilseed supply is likely to slow down the growth rate of soybean imports.”

In March, the Chinese government announced it was ending subsidies for domestic corn production owing to the buildup of massive stocks for which no market was in sight. This was rapidly leading to an imbalance in the market and was costing the government dearly. As a result, farmers shifted toward soybean production, which aimed to reduce the country’s reliance on imported oilseeds for animal feeds, and support the forecast strong growth in poultry meat and pork output.

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