China's soybean imports in April fell 8.5% year on year to 8.08 million mt, according to a General Administration of Customs report released May 9.
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The world's largest soybeans importer and consumer has been slow in purchasing the oilseeds in 2022.
China imported 28.36 million mt of beans in the first four months of the year, down 0.8% on the year, the data showed.
Negative crush margins have been weighing heavily on the country's oilseed imports demand, a Shanghai-based consultancy said.
China Soybean gross crush margin (June) was assessed at minus $21.88/mt on May 6, compared with $7.50/mt a year earlier, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.
The country's hog margins have been poor due to the overproduction of pigs in recent years, which in turn reflects the slackening demand for soybean-based animal feed, a crusher said.
China's hog industry suffered a deadly epidemic called the African swine fever in 2018 that slashed its hog population by a little more than 50% by the end of 2019. As a result, hog prices had spiked to record levels.
The hog population began soaring again in 2021 after some strict regulations and consolidation of the pork industry by the government, leading to an oversupply of pork ever since.
China's soybean imports are expected to remain slow in the 2021-22 marketing year (September-August), according to the analysts, as they do not see hog and crush margins recovering any time soon.
The US Department of Agriculture has forecast China's soybean imports at 91 million mt in 2021-22, well below imports of 99.76 million mt a year ago.