BEIJING, CHINA — The U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Beijing said it expected China to continue to increase its imports of soybeans through the 2015-16 marketing year.

The office preliminarily forecast Chinese imports of soybeans from all sources in 2015-16 at 77.5 million tonnes, up 4.5 million tonnes, or 6%, from the trade office’s forecast for the current year at a record 73 million tonnes and compared with 70.364 million tonnes in 2013-14. The trade office issued its forecasts for Chinese soybean imports in its Peoples Republic of China Oilseeds and Products Annual, which was issued on March 3.

“Driven by price advantage and purchasing convenience … many food processors in the coastal provinces are progressively using more imported soybeans to produce Tofu, soy milk and other foods,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said. “The direct use of whole soybean as a feed ingredient is also increasing.”

China accounts for about 64% of world trade in soybeans. The agricultural trade office said China was expected to continue increasing its imports in the next marketing year as domestic production declines. The trade office preliminarily projected Chinese soybean production in 2015 at 11.7 million tonnes compared with the office estimate for 2014 at 12 million tonnes.

The trade office preliminarily projected Chinese imports of U.S. soybeans in 2015-16 at 29 million tonnes compared with an office forecast of 28 million tonnes for the current year and 27.040 million tonnes in 2013-14.

While U.S. soybean exports to China were forecast to rise in 2015-16, Brazil was expected to remain China’s largest soybean supplier. Argentina was expected to remain the third-largest exporter of soybeans to China but will significantly lag the other two countries, the trade office said.

The U.S. share in the Chinese soybean export market was forecast at 37% in 2015-16 compared with 38% in both 2014-15 and 2013-14.

The trade office indicated Brazil exported nearly 33 million tonnes of soybeans to China in 2013-14, which accounted for a market share of 47% in that year.