COLUMN- Huge soybean sales in the US are in contrast to China’s import cut plans

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Por Karen Braun

Fort Collins, Col. (Reuters) – US soybean exporters recently posted record sales of older crops and orders for new crops are well above normal, shamefully contradicting China’s latest forecast of a sharp drop in demand.

Overseas demand for US oilseeds was lower than last year’s high, as expected, but severe crop losses in South America and rising global prices have recently spooked buyers for both current and next-season crops.

As of February 10, US soybean export sales totaled 48.1 million tonnes for the 2021-22 business year ending August 31, which is about 86% of the Department of Agriculture’s annual forecast. Coverage was 77% four weeks ago.

This is down from 97% on the same date last year, but only slightly behind the pre-trade average, and sales are still coming in. The USDA announced Thursday that 120,000 tons of US old crop soybeans have been sold to unidentified buyers.

This flurry of orders for about 6.3 million tonnes of old crops between January 1 and February 10 is likely to be a record for the period and up 28% from last year’s more than a decade high. This includes more than 2 million tonnes in net sales to China and about 2.8 million tonnes in gross sales to unknown buyers.

Concerns about future demand for soybeans are evident in the 2022-23 sales progress, which reached 4.5 million tonnes on February 10. That’s about a charge behind last year’s pace, which was a 10-year high.

As of February 10, China sold 2.58 million tonnes of new crop soybeans in the US, and unidentified buyers, many of whom represent China, had secured 1.55 million. Most of these purchases have happened since January 1.

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China’s recent purchase of soybeans in the US, especially for the next marketing year, contradicts Xinhua news agency’s Wednesday report that China may cut soybean demand by 30 million tonnes.

The estimated timing for this was unclear, although such a large reduction would cut annual imports by 30% and domestic consumption by more than a quarter from current levels. This will bring soybean demand in China closer to the 2013/14 level.


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