Market News & Headlines >> China's Soy, Wheat, Pork Imports Down

China’s imports of soybeans, wheat and pork tumbled in September compared with a year earlier, while corn imports were up sharply, according to official Chinese customs data.

China imported 6.88 million metric tons of soybeans in September, down 30% from 9.79 million tons in the same month in 2020, according to General Administration of Customs data released last Wednesday. The imports were the lowest for the month since 2014.

Poor crush margins curbed demand for soybean imports. "The figures were within market expectation," said an industry source, who declined to be identified as she was not authorized to talk to the media. "Crush margins were bad while some crushers also suspended operation for regular maintenance," the source told Reuters News Service.

Chinese crushers stepped up purchases of soybeans earlier in the year in anticipation of strong demand from a fast recovering pig herd. Demand started to weaken, however, as plunging hog margins pressured crush margins.

Meanwhile, customs data released on Monday showed China’s September wheat imports totaled 640,000 metric tons, down 40.4% versus September 2021. High world wheat prices and falling domestic corn prices helped cap China’s imports, traders in China told Reuters. Falling Chinese corn prices have caused feed producers to boost corn use and cut back on the amount of wheat being used for feed.

In contrast, China imported 3.53 million metric tons of corn during September, a hefty 227% more than in September 2020.

China’s September pork imports slid 44.8% from a year earlier amid increased domestic production. China's third-quarter pork production surged to the highest level in three years, official data showed on Monday. Pork output for July-September was 12.02 million metric tons, up 43% compared with a year earlier, according to Reuters' calculations based on official data. The production surge was led by the largest producers who invested billions of yuan in new farms during 2020 in a bid to grab market share in the aftermath of China’s swine fever epidemic.

Third quarter pork production was boosted in part by herd liquidation spurred by plunging hog margins. Chinese pork prices have plunged 65% so far this year, prompting some farmers to sell their herds and exit the business, while others took the opportunity to get rid of less productive sows.