WASHINGTON, DC, US — The US Department of Agriculture on Feb. 9 raised its forecast for China’s corn imports in 2020-21 to a record 24 million tonnes, up 6.5 million tonnes, or 37%, from its January projection and compared with 7.6 million tonnes in 2019-20. The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service commented, “China’s demand for feed stuffs continues to rise as its swine herd recovers from African swine fever.”

China was forecast to be the world’s largest corn importer in 2020-21 followed by Mexico at 16.5 million tonnes and Japan at 15.6 million tonnes.

To date this marketing year, China has purchased a record 17.7 million tonnes of US corn, equating to about 74% of what that nation was forecast to import from all origins in 2020-21.

At the same time, the USDA raised its forecast for Chinese wheat imports in 2020-21 for the sixth consecutive month. The USDA forecast China’s wheat imports in the current marketing year at 10 million tonnes, up 1 million tonnes from the January projection and up 4.62 million tonnes, or 86%, from 5.38 million tonnes in 2020-21. If the forecast is realized, Chinese wheat imports in 2020-21 would be the highest in more than 25 years.

“Although most wheat imports allocated toward human consumption, their relatively low import prices compared with China’s domestic corn prices make wheat attractive for feed use in China’s southern region,” the USDA said. “France has been the largest supplier for the first half of 2020-21, with landed prices averaging $270 per tonne, more than $160 per tonne lower than domestic corn and $120 per tonne less than domestic wheat. This price spread continues to support stronger feed use of wheat and spur imports.”