BEIJING, CHINA — China’s rebounding swine sector and increasing demand for soybean meal is anticipated to boost the country’s soybean imports, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Soybean imports for the 2020-21 marketing year are expected to total 95 million tonnes on continued feed demand growth in the swine and poultry sector. 

The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) caused a soybean import frenzy from Brazil May-June. Fears of a supply chain disruption led to the country importing a record 30.6 million tonnes of soybeans during the three-month period, the report said. Still, worries remain about potential supply issues.

“With the transition from the Brazilian to the US harvest and shipping season, concerns about reliable access to US soybeans due to the bilateral relationship are likely to sustain continuing imports, as importers seek to stock up ahead of what the perceive as potential supply chain bottleneck,” the report said.

China’s feed production is forecast to increase in the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 as the swine heard continues to recover from African swine fever (ASF) and the poultry sector fulfills growing demand.

The USDA projects China’s market year 2020-21 soybean meal feed use at 71.4 million tonnes compared with 68.7 million tonnes in the previous year. Soybean crush margins also are expected to increase to 93 million tonnes in market year 2020-21 compared with 89.5 million tonnes a year ago.

The country’s soybean production remains steady at 18 million tonnes in market year 2020-21. Overall, soybean growth remains normal through mid-August given generally favorable weather conditions, the USDA said.