US 2022 agri exports to China smash records, soybeans sales up 16%

9 Jan 2023 | Svitlana Synkovska

US agricultural exports to China in the 2022 fiscal year were $36.4 billion, surpassing the previous year’s record and making China the largest export market for the second consecutive year, the USDA has shown.

Higher prices and strong demand helped drive US exports above the previous year’s record, despite lower volumes for most products, the US Department of Agriculture said in its latest International Agricultural Trade Report.

Higher global commodity prices and China's robust buying were the main reasons for the record US export value to China in 2022, while the Trump-era Phase One trade agreement reduced or removed technical and non-technical barriers for several products, including poultry and beef.

Soybeans accounted for nearly 50% of US agricultural exports to China at a record $16.4 billion, surpassing the previous year by 16%.

China is the world’s largest soybean importer and processor, it consumes nearly 120 million tons of soybeans a year and imports nearly 60% of the global soybean trade.

US corn exports to China in 2022 exceeded $4.8 billion, down from a record in FY 2021 but still the second-highest level in history. Despite volumes down by about 26%, the total value fell just 9 %t due to higher prices.

Huge progress was made on sorghum sales, with US sorghum exports to China hitting a record $2.2 billion, nearly tripling over the last 2 years.

China took about 90% of the total US sorghum export volume. In addition, sorghum prices increased above the previous year by more than $400 million.

As a result, last year, sorghum proved attractive for Chinese feed producers as a competitively priced alternative to corn.

By 2023, China will have accumulated 65% of the world’s corn and 53% of its wheat exports, according to forecasts from the USDA.

However, with China home to around 20% of the global population, it only has about 7% of the world’s arable land.

In addition, the area of China’s arable land is expected to decrease by 6% between 2010 and 2060, amid urbanization and pollution of soil and water.

As a result, China relies more on imports, making it one of the world’s largest wheat importers and the main corn, barley, and oilseed importer.