BRASILIA, BRAZIL — Brazil is expected to export a new record amount of soybeans in 2022-23 on the availability of greater supplies, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Exports are estimated at 92 million tonnes, up from an estimated 77 million tonnes in 2021-22 and from record exports of 88 million tonnes in 2020-21.

Following a strong start to the export season, the pace began to slow in February. In the first five months of the year, soybean exports dropped 9% compared to the same period in 2021, the USDA said.

China long has been the primary buyer of Brazilian soybeans, but demand has not been as strong in 2022 as previously expected. China has postponed its purchases in the second half of the year with the expectation that a large US harvest will put pressure on prices.

“USDA projects that China’s soybean demand could rebound with increasing demand for animal feed,” the USDA said, noting that China is rebuilding its swine herd that was decimated in 2019 by African swine fever.

A record 49.15 million tonnes of soybeans are destined for processing in 2022-23, an increase of about 2% from 2021-22. The USDA said there is strong demand for Brazilian soybean products, especially oil.

Soybean planted area for 2022-23 is still estimated at 42.5 million hectares, which is above the five-year seasonal growth rate.

Forecast planted area expansion is based on several factors, including the expectation of robust global demand for soybeans, sowing of degraded pasture, a favorable exchange rate, high commodity prices, and ongoing improvements in infrastructure and logistics. Expansion in planted area is also anticipated because initial concerns about fertilizer supply have been abetted, for the time being, the USDA said.

Brazil imports about 85% of its fertilizer needs from Russia and Belarus. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February raised concerns about fertilizer availability. Brazil actually has imported more fertilizer in 2022 despite sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus.

The USDA revised production estimates for 2022-23 upward to 144 million tonnes based on a yield of 3.39 tonnes per hectare.