China’s 2023 corn imports surge to 27.1m mt on record Dec levels: customs

18 Jan 2024 | Regina Koh

China’s corn imports in 2023 came to 27.13 million mt, a 31.6% jump from the level in 2022 following a record December performance, figures from the country’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) showed Thursday.

Corn imports in December reached 4.95 million mt – the highest monthly volume ever recorded – exceeding the previous high set in November at 3.59 million mt and over 400% higher than levels in December 2022.

The jump comes as attractive prices and a bumper harvest from South American supplier Brazil kept supply plentiful, prompting buyers to pick up more of the grain, even as China’s domestic corn production in 2023 also rose by 4.2% on the year to 288.8 million mt.  

The total volume imported in 2023 comes in just shy of the all-time high of 28.4 million mt reached in 2021. 

Meanwhile, China’s wheat imports in December fell by 7.6% on the month to 610,000 mt, although total wheat imports for 2023 rose by 21.5% on the year to 12.1 million mt.

Total barley imports in 2023 also rose by 96.6% from 2022 to 11.3 million mt, with December levels coming in at 1.66 million mt, an increase of 36.1% from November.

China’s barley imports have been relatively firm over the last few months, coming in above 1 million mt since September, with the lifting of restrictions on Australian barley back in August also contributing to the higher volume entering the country.    

On the other hand, total sorghum imports fell drastically by 49% from 2022 to 5.21 million mt, after December’s imports came in 35.2% less than November at 350,000 mt.

Lastly, edible vegetable oil imports in December were estimated at 810,000 mt, 12% less than in November, bringing total edible vegoil imports for 2023 to 9.81 million mt – 51% higher than in 2022.

Palm olein imports in December fell by 34% on the month to 290,000 mt, with the total volume for 2023 coming to 4.33 million mt, 27% higher on the year.

Rapeseed oil imports also fell in December to 230,000 mt from November’s 270,000 mt, with annual cumulative imports jumping sharply by 122% from 2022 to 2.36 million mt.

Conversely, soybean oil imports rose to 60,000 mt from 40,000 mt in November, bringing total imports for the year to 400,000 mt, 16% higher than 2022.