China, perennially the world’s top soybean importer, relies on Brazil and the United States for nearly all its soybean supplies, and for many years, the United States was the top supplier.
The customs data showed China, the world’s top buyer of soybeans, imported 142,150 metric tons of the oilseed from the U.S. in July, down from 381,568 tons a year earlier.
However, the U.S. remains China’s second-largest soybean supplier, accounting for 32% of its total soybean imports. For the January-to-July period, soybean shipments from the U.S. rose 10.8% year-on-year to 19.85 million tons.
Overall, recovering soybean meal and oil demand in China are driving an anticipated increase in imports for the crop, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture.
China’s soybean imports from Brazil rose 32.4% in July from a year earlier to 9.23 million tons, as Chinese buyers took advantage of lower prices.
According to a Reuters report, a bumper crop and lower prices from Brazil spurred the increase of imports from the country.
From January to July, China imported 38.9 million metric tons from Brazil, up 12.2% on the year. Brazil accounted for 62.4% of China’s soybean imports year to date.
Nevertheless, as part of its Five-Year Agricultural Plan that runs through 2027, China has made increasing self-sufficiency in soybeans and other grains and oilseeds a priority.
However, the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service estimates that China’s oilseeds imports will reach a record 100 million tonnes in the 2022-23 marketing year and will be around 99 million tonnes in the current marketing year.
FAS Post Beijing estimates soybean imports to reach 98 million tonnes in the marketing year 2022-23 and 98.5 million tonnes in 2023-24.
The end of COVID-related restrictions, lower prices following a record soybean harvest in Brazil, and modest growth in the swine and poultry sectors are expected to increase soybean meal consumption.
Both projections are up significantly from the 91.566 million tonnes imported in 2021-22.