China 2020 soybean imports to hit new record of 100m mt: USSEC

17 Nov 2020 | Johnny Huang

China is expected to import a new record high of 100 million mt of soybeans this calendar year, despite concerns for weak global demand amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and lingering US-China tension, said a senior representative from the US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) at an industry event on Tuesday.

The world’s largest soybean importing country is likely to clear an all-time high level of soybeans in 2020, exceeding the previous record of 95.54 million mt imported in 2017, according to data from China Customs.

“Soybean imports this year are likely to hit more than 98 million mt, probably close to 100 million mt,” said Zhang Xiaoping, a director at USSEC, during the Global Grains conference.

China has already imported 83.21 million mt of soybeans between January and October this year.

And imports for November and December are expected to average 9 million mt respectively, according to trade data collected by Agricensus.

China’s soybean imports are on track to reach a record high this year against the backdrop of sinking global commodity demand due to the pandemic, with the increase in imports coming as the country’s pig producing sector consolidates after the African swine fever outbreak.

Zhang expected Covid-19 to have had a limited impact on China’s pork market and animal feed demand, adding that “African swine fever (ASF) was the main factor”.

Scaled farming is expected to account for more than 60% of China’s hog production in the next five years as small farmers exit the market due to financial losses caused by ASF.

This means that more soybean will be imported to produce animal feed for those scaled farms instead of small farms that used to feed pigs with food wastes.