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China remains world’s largest soybean importer

Staff writer ▼ | March 29, 2016
China’s domestic oilseed production growth continues to be hampered by limited arable land and recent domestic policies favoring grain production.
Food trade   Soybean imports remain robust in China
This is according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service.

China’s total planted area for all oilseed crops is forecast to drop 2% to 21.87 million hectares and total oilseed production is forecast to decrease by 2.1% to 52.7 MMT in 2016-17.

The lower forecast reflects an expected decline in rapeseed and cottonseed production – a combined 1.5 million tonnes – as policy changes and lower market prices reduced earnings in these commodities. The forecast for soybean production is up slightly, primarily affected by changes in grain policies.

In market year 2016-17, the total Chinese oilseed consumption forecast rose to 142.9 million tonnes driven by increasing domestic demand for meats, seafood and vegetable oils.

Additionally, the expansion of the oilseed crushing sector, growth in the feed industry, and advancements in concentrated livestock and aquatic farming are collectively spurring demand and the need for imports.

With limited domestic production, soybean imports remain robust with total oilseed imports forecast at 89.2 million tonnes for market year 2016-17.

Soybean imports could reach 84.5 million tonnes, up from the estimated 82 million tonnes in market year 2015-16, in line with the USDA official March 2016 estimate.

China’s imports of U.S. soybeans reached 29.7 million tonnes in market year 2014-15, up 2.7 million tonnes over the previous year and accounted for 38% of China’s total soybean imports.

Imports from the U.S. are expected to stay strong at about 30 million tonnes in market year 2016-17. However, U.S. soybeans still face fierce competition from South American suppliers.