China’s 2022/23 soybean imports pegged at record 100m mt: USDA

18 Mar 2022 | Eduardo Tinti

The USDA’s local post in China has pegged the country’s 2022/23 soybean imports at a record 100 million mt due to higher feed demand and high prices of protein-rich substitutes, a report dated March 17 showed.

If confirmed, this will represent a 5 million mt year-on-year increase compared to the post’s revised estimate that placed China’s 2021/22 imports at 95 million mt, below its previous numbers but one million mt above the USDA’s latest official figure released on March 9.

The local office expects China’s 2022/23 consumption to reach 18.4 million mt.

“After suffering from high feed costs, weak demand, and over production in MY 21/22, moderate growth and profitability is expected to return to the swine and poultry sectors in MY 22/33, leading to 2.2 million mt of total consumption growth,” the report said.

The increase in soybean imports is also expected to be supported by higher soymeal usage in animal feed linked to higher prices of substitute products.

“The use of wheat as a substitute for high-priced corn attributed to a decline in SBM inclusion in 2021. Post forecasts lower use of corn substitutes, including wheat, sorghum and barley in 2022 will modestly increase SBM inclusion rates,” the local office said.

The country’s crush volume is also expected to increase in 2022/23, but plants will remain underutilised.

On the supply side, China’s soybean production is expected to be increased by one million mt year-on-year in 2022/23 to 17.4 million mt on increased acreage.

With new estimates setting the 2022/23 marketing year for an all-time high in terms of soybean imports, the USDA Beijing office stressed the dependency the country has on a small number of overseas suppliers.

“The ability to shift significant volumes of purchases to suppliers outside of Brazil, the United States and Argentina, is limited and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future,” the post said.