China soybean imports hit 11-month high, stocks rocket 10%

8 Aug 2019 | Johnny Huang

China’s total soybean imports in July this year surged to the highest level since August last year, government data showed on Thursday, pushing stocks to a five-month high.

However, the figure was still below market expectations.

Imports jumped nearly 8% year-on-year to 8.64 million mt and were almost 33% higher than the 6.51 million mt imported a month earlier, data from China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) showed.

Stocks held at ports have now hit their highest level in five months, according to China government data also released Thursday, with just over 7 million mt held in warehouses on the eastern seaboard – the highest level since the end of the Chinese New Year.

The figure, however, doesn’t tell the full story as June shipments were very low.

Sellers in Brazil sought to delay shipments to take advantage of a carry in the market structure – where prices are higher for later loading dates.

“June [import] was actually quite low, and July [import] was playing a complementary role,” one China-based soybean broker said.

According to historical data from GACC, China’s total soybean imports in the first and second quarters of this year were both down about 15% from the same period in 2018.

While June imports this year fell more than 25% on year from 8.7 million mt in June 2018 with May 2019 imports also down more than 24% on year at 7.36 million mt compared to 9.7 million mt in May 2018.

Despite the jump in July this year, the volume was still below market expectations.

Based on polled data from eight different market sources by Agricensus, the expected volume for July was 9.54 million mt.