BEIJING, CHINA — Strong demand from the recovering livestock sector boosted China’s first-quarter imports of soybeans and grains such as corn and wheat, Reuters reported, citing customs data.

Soybean imports nearly doubled in March to 7.77 million tonnes, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

Imports in January and February were lower than market expectations because of cargo delay. Some of those shipments arrived in March.

While monthly figures were not available for corn and wheat, the customs bureau said China brought in 6.727 million tonnes of corn in the quarter, a more than fivefold increase from the previous year, Reuters reported. Quarterly wheat imports at 2.925 million tonnes were more than double from a year ago.

China’s soybean imports in the first three months of the year totaled 21.18 million tonnes, up 19% from 17.79 million tonnes in the previous year, according to customs data.

Chinese crushers previously stepped up purchases of soybeans on good crushing margins anticipating demand from the country’s fast-recovering pig farming sector.

However, another round of African swine fever has wiped out nearly 20% of the breeding herd in northern China, curbing demand for soymeal.