China has purchased 900,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, one of the country's largest purchases ever of the grain on overseas markets, according to reports.
The purchase comes in the wake of an expected record grain harvest in China. The country's corn consumption likely totaled 176 million tons in the crop year beginning October 1, 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "China's harvest is up but that will just about satisfy domestic demand," said Hanver Li, chairman of the market research firm Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Ltd. "Meanwhile, reserves are running low, so China needs to import corn to build up their stocks."
According to Li, China may import between 7 and 10 million metric tons of corn over the next 12 months. China's total corn imports could climb to as much as 15 million metric tons by 2015. China was a net exporter of corn until 2003, leveling out in 2009 and becoming a net importer in 2010.