China’s annual soybean imports from Brazil decline for second consecutive year

20 Jan 2023 | Regina Koh

China’s soybean imports from Brazil fell in 2022 for the second year in a row, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed Friday.

Soybeans volumes from Brazil reached 54.39 million mt in 2022, down 6.45% against the previous year.

Imports from other key suppliers US and Argentina also slipped as weakened demand amid a year of Covid-related disruptions and higher domestic production weighed on imports.

For 2022, China purchased 29.5 million mt of soybeans from the US, an 8.48% drop from the previous year, while imports from Argentina fell by 2.08% to 3.65 million mt.

Poor crush margins for most of the year had also kept demand from Chinese crushers constrained, with demand for feed from hog farmers also reduced amid poor farming margins.

China’s soybean imports in December from its key suppliers however rose across the board, with imports from the US notably rising 78.03% on the month to 6.02 million mt, with the level 0.77% lower against last year.

December volumes from Brazil came in at 2.56 million mt, 1.1% higher on the month and 21.2% more from a year ago.

Meanwhile, soybean imports from Argentina also rose by 26.5% against November to 1.46 million mt.

This was 331.6% higher compared to the previous year, with China having stepped up its buying from Argentina in the last few months of 2022 on the back of Argentina’s ‘soy dollar’ instrument policy which made prices of Argentine soybeans more attractive against its competitors.

December’s soybean imports were also higher by 43.7% against November at 10.56 million mt, as slower cargo loading and longer clearance times at customs slowed arrivals in November and rolled into December.

For the 2022/23 marketing year, China’s agricultural outlook committee had kept its estimates for soybean imports unchanged at 95.2 million mt, while raising production to 20.29 million mt from the previous 19.48 million mt in its latest China Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (Casde) update.