The forecast for 2016-17 soybean imports was slightly lower than the official USDA data forecast of 87 million tonnes. Increased Chinese demand for industry feed and protein meal as a result of a recovery in swine production and steady growth in the poultry sector was seen as the market driver behind the an increase in soybean imports to record-high levels.
“China’s recent sale of stored oilseed and oilseed product reserves (soybeans and rapeseed oil) is expected to absorb market share for food soybeans and vegetable oils,” the GAIN report said. “However, forecast lower imports of DDGS (distillers’ dried grains with solubles) as a result of China’s anti-dumping investigation may increase demand for soybean meal and thus support growth in soybean imports.”
China expects its own production of soybeans to grow during the same period as a result of increases in planted area reflecting government efforts to restructure the crop mix and better yields. The China Agricultural Outlook Committee (affiliated with the ministry of agriculture) forecast 12.86 million tonnes of soybeans in 2016-17 on higher yields and favorable weather, up from a previous forecast of 12.76 million tonnes. The China National Grain and Oilseed Information Center issued a forecast of 12.6 million tonnes for 2016-17, up 8.6% from the previous year.
In addition, an independent oilseed information source predicted China’s domestic production of soybeans in 2016-17 will total 14.1 million tonnes, up 3.67 million tonnes from an estimated 10.43 million tonnes estimated in 2015-16.
Forecast lower rapeseed and cottonseed production in China in 2016-17 was also expected to increase soybean imports for protein meal.
The GAIN report forecast 2016-17 imports of rapeseed to China at 3.9 tonnes, above the USDA official forecast of 3.8 tonnes. Chinese peanut imports in 2016-17 were estimated to decline to 400,000 tons, down from 550,000 tons in 2015-16 as a result of strong domestic production. The expected decline in peanut imports reflected strong gains in domestic acreage coupled with a continuing depreciation in the value of the Chinese currency.
The GAIN report also indicated a decline to 8.3 million tonnes in Chinese cotton seed production in 2016-17, partly as a result of an expected decline of 10% in acreage, and down from the estimated 8.9 million tonnes in the previous marketing year.
China’s imports of vegetable oils were expected to be flat in 2016-17 after declining in 2015-16, as a result of the high crush of oilseeds and sales of domestic oilseed product reserves. Soybean oil imports for 2016-17 were forecast to be unchanged from the previous marketing year at 650,000 tons. Rapeseed oil imports were forecast to fall to 700,000 tons from an estimated 750,000 tons. Peanut oil imports were forecast at 130,000 tons compared with an estimated 120,000 tons the previous year. Sunflower seed imports were forecast to be about unchanged from 2015-16.
The GAIN report’s estimate for 2016-17 palm oil imports were 5.2 million tonnes, up from about 5 million tonnes in the previous crop year, but significantly lower than the recent average of 5.95 million tonnes in 2012-14 and 2014-15.“Weaker palm oil imports are due to a combination of factors, resumption of export duty in exporting countries; weak demand for palm oil; an adequate supply of other vegetable oils; and depreciation of the Chinese currency,” the report said.