US agriculture staff raised estimates for China's rapeseed imports,
noting a boost both from the imposition of one set of trade curbs, and the
easing in another.
US Department of Agriculture staff in Beijing hiked by
400,000 tonnes to 2.3m tonnes their forecast for China's rapeseed imports in
And next season, imports will hit 2.5m tonnes, 100,000 tonnes
above the official USDA estimate.
The figure is also bigger than estimates of 2m tonnes from
China's official CNGOIC crop think tank and from World Trade Atlas.
It also comes against a backdrop of tight world rapeseed supplies,
following a series of disappointing European and Ukraine harvests, which is
expected to see world inventories fall in 2012-13 for a third successive season.
The tightness has boosted prices, which in Paris stood at
E517.00 a tonne for August delivery, a 17-month high for a spot contract.
'Meal demand gap'
The Chinese import estimates reflected in part the impact of
the country's easing of restrictions on imports of Canadian canola, the
rapeseed variant, of which buy-ins were curbed in 2009 for fear of spreading blackleg,
a fungal disease.
However, the USDA bureau also flagged Beijing's decision
earlier this year to ban imports of vegetable meals from India, following the alleged
discovery in rapeseed meal of contamination with malachite green, a synthetic
dye used to colour fabrics such as leather, silk and wool.
The suspension "is likely to push rapeseed imports to fill the
meal demand gap", the bureau said.
Indeed, China has no shortage of its own rapeseed crushing
capacity, estimated at 50m tonnes a year.
With China's annual rapeseed consumption at 15m-16m tonnes a
year, "the current average utilisation rate remains very low".
The bureau also highlighted a boost to Chinese rapeseed
demand from the formation of a "tentative [state] reserve" of 3m tonnes of the
Overall, Beijing has authorised the purchase of 5m tonnes of
the oilseed in 2012-13 at 5,000 yuan ($794, E637) a tonne.
Nonetheless, the upgraded import forecast was below that of Oil
World last week, which pegged China's rapeseed imports in 2011-12 at 2.4m
tonnes, and "likely to rise" next season to 2.7m tonnes, although "imports of
3.0m tonnes cannot be ruled out"
"We expect that Chinese import demand for Canadian canola
will be particularly high until December, and it remains to be seen how
aggressively China buys," Oil World said.
The German-based analysis group said that "China is to
be seen as the biggest swing factor" in the rapeseed market.