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China's June soybean imports surge on pig herd recovery

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China's June soybean imports surge on pig herd recovery

Highlights

January-June soy imports rise 9% on year

Hog herd recovery boosts soy demand

Low crush margin likely to put pressure on imports in coming weeks

China's soybean imports in June rose on strong domestic demand as the country's pig herd recovers from African swine fever, market sources told S&P Global Platts July 13.

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According to a customs department report released June 13, China imported 10.7 million mt of beans in June, up 11.6% month on month, but down 3.9% from record imports last June.

The world's largest soybean importer bought 48.96 million mt of beans in the first half of 2021, up 8.7% on the year, the customs report showed.

While US-origin beans dominated China's soy imports in the first three months of 2021, Brazil is expected to comprise the majority of shipments between April and September amid the arrival in the market of new crop.

Typically, China buys Brazilian oilseed for the first three quarters of a calendar year due to its price competitiveness and turns to the US in the last quarter when South American beans begin to get more expensive.

According to market analysts, Brazil-origin bean purchases are set to dominate China's oilseed market until late September, when the new US soybean crop harvest begins.

Hog herd recovery boosting soy demand

The number of live pigs in China — the world's largest pork producer and consumer — is expected to exceed 440 million heads in the second half of 2021, the agricultural ministry had said in April.

With steep hog herd growth, China's soybean demand is projected to hit record highs.

China is heavily dependent on soybean purchases as it processes more than 80% of imported beans into animal feed.

According to S&P Global Platts Analytics, China is expected to import record volumes of the oilseed in 2020-21 (October-September) at 100 million mt, although a low crush margin in China since late February is expected to put pressure on China's demand in the coming months, analysts said.

China Soybean Gross Crush margin for August has been assessed at a negative $5.12/mt July 12, compared with an average margin of $28/mt in January, according to Platts.