China’s March 2022 soybean imports decline 18% year-on-year

13 Apr 2022 | Cai Chen

Customs-cleared soybean imports into China fell 18.2% in March 2022 from the same period last year due to delayed shipments from Brazil and weak demand in the domestic market, customs data showed Wednesday.

The world’s top soybean buyer bought in only 6.353 million mt of the oilseed in March, compared with the 7.77 million mt imported a year ago, according to data from the General Administration of Customs (CGAC).

The level landed below market expectations, as China’s National Grain and Oil Information Centre (CNGOIC) called for the import volume in March to be around 6.7 million mt.

Total imports in the first three months of the year reached 20.28 million mt, 4.2% lower than 21.16 million mt recorded a year earlier.

The drop came in as adverse weather conditions in Brazil, the world’s largest soybean producer, delayed its harvesting process and slowed the export pace.

At the same time, deteriorating crush margins in China’s domestic market heavily weighed on demand from downstream industries, particularly the feed sector.

China’s hog prices have plummeted since early this year, heavily weighing on hog margins and subsequently dampening demand for soymeal – one major feedstuff crushed from soybeans.

China’s government has been releasing soybean from its central state reserves to increase the domestic supply, while buying frozen pork to support hog prices and improve hog margins.

China’s soybean imports are forecasted to increase in April, with around 8.5 million mt estimated by CNGOIC, as more cargoes from Brazil are expected to arrive in the coming month.

For grain imports, China brought in 12 million mt in March, pushing accumulated volume since the start of this year to 37 million mt, down 1.5% year-on-year.

China also bought 307,000 mt of edible vegetable oil in March, with total imports in the first three months of 2022 down 62.8% on the year to 1.05 million mt.

Finally, China imported 594,000 mt of meat in March, significantly lower than the 1.02 million mt brought in the same month last year.

Corrected: Please note, the article originally incorrectly stated March 2021 Chinese meat imports of 102,400 mt. The figure should have been 1.02 million mt and has now been corrected. Agricensus apologises for any confusion.