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Agriculture

Brazil's 2018-19 soybean output revised up 0.5% on May estimate to 114.8 mil mt: Conab

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Brazil's 2018-19 soybean output revised up 0.5% on May estimate to 114.8 mil mt: Conab

Singapore — Brazil's soybean production in the 2018/19 crop year is seen at 114.8 million mt, national agricultural agency Companhia Nacional de Abastecimento, or, Conab said Tuesday, up 0.5% on the May projection due to favorable weather for medium and late cycle soy crops.

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In 2018/19, there was a 1.9% year on year growth in planting area, the agency said. However, the overall production is still likely to be down 3.7% year on year despite the latest upward revision, it said.

The central-west and southern regions of Brazil accounted for more than 78% of total soybean production, Conab said.

Soybean exports estimate for the 2018/19 remained unchanged on May estimate of 68 million mt, down 18% year on year, the data showed.

"Annual soybean export projection for 2018/19 has declined as the export pace in recent months could not match the momentum of early months since the harvest is winding up", the agency said in an earlier report.

Low soybean crop yield was cited as another reason for downward revision of soy production and export estimates, as the primary soybean-producing states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Sao Paulo, and Parana were hit by dry weather for the early season crop, Conab said in an earlier report.

Reduced Chinese soybean demand due to African swine fever and rising domestic bio diesel demand were cited as additional reasons for the fall in 2018/19 soybean exports, the report said.

Brazil is the world's largest soybean producer and exporter, while China is the largest importer, accounting for over 60% of global soybean purchases.

Since the recent escalation of trade tension between the US, world's second largest soybean exporter, and China, the Chinese are almost exclusively importing soybeans from Brazil, sources said.

However, Chinese purchase of Brazilian soy has fallen 5% on year during January-May period due to the ASF impact, Conab said.

China purchased 26.31 million mt of Brazilian soy exports during January-May period, accounting for over 70% of the Brazilian soy sale, according to Secex data.

Last August, there was an outbreak of ASF in China resulting in over a million pigs being culled in the country since then, according to China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The culling has negatively impacted the demand for soybean derivatives such as soy meal, sources said.

Due to ASF, Chinese soybean demand is seen to fall 8.5% on year to 86 million mt in 2018-19, Conab said.

S&P Global Platts Analytics estimates a 15% year-on-year decline in soybean imports by China to 80 million mt in 2018/19.

Meanwhile, Brazil-origin soybean exports in May were 10.84 million mt, down 12% year on year, according to Secretariat of Foreign Trade, or Secex.

Brazil exported 37.28 million mt of soybeans in the January-May period, up 4% year on year, Secex data showed.

The ongoing US-China trade tension could benefit Brazilian soybean exports to China, Conab added.

However, we need to keep a close watch on ASF impact on Chinese soybean demand, the national agency said.

--Asim Anand, aanand@spglobal.com

--Edited by Debiprasad Nayak, newsdesk@spglobal.com