China’s soybean imports are forecast to increase to 100.5 million tonnes in 2018-19, up from 97 million the previous year, the USDA said.
China’s net yearly soybean import growth averaged nearly 7 million tonnes from 2011-12 to 2016-17 due to a surge in pork prices, it said.
“The record pork process in mid-2016 played a key role in driving a net growth of 10.2 million tonnes of soybean imports in 2016-17 from the previous year,” the USDA said. “Soybean imports in 2017-18 are expected to maintain a normal growth pattern given the sluggish pork prices that have occurred since March 2018.”
In an effort to meet the Chinese government’s goal of self-sufficiency in soybeans, acreage is forecast to expand in 2018-19 by 600,000 hectares with production projected to rise by 800,000 tonnes to 15.2 million.
“The forecast increase in soybean acreage and production in 2018-19 is buoyed by the government’s support policy that is encouraging some farmers to plant soybeans or rotate to soybeans from corn in the traditional soybean planting regions,” the USDA said.
The USDA forecasts 2018-19 soybean ending stocks at 19.5 million tonnes, slightly higher than the previous year. The Chinese government maintains an unknown volume of soybean stocks and vegetable oil reserves, as Chinese official statistics for stocks are not publicly available.
A 25% tariff on imports of various U.S. products, including soybeans, is scheduled to go into effect on July 6. The USDA noted that its trade analysis does not take into consideration any effects the tariffs may have on China’s oilseed or soybean imports.