Chinese soybean imports are expected to drop to a five-year low amid a slump in demand for crushed crops.
Despite an increase in China’s own soy production, the country still needs to import “significant” volumes.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dropped its estimated import figure for the 2019-20 season to 83m tonnes, 4m tonnes lower than its official estimate.
News comes as the country’s agriculture ministry, which imports about 65% of all soybeans, revealed there had been a fresh outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the south eastern region of Guangxi.
The USDA’s Beijing attache said the drop in soybean imports is the result of were results of “significant declines in China’s sow and hog inventories due to African swine fever”, but said domestic soybean production would increase 5.7% to 16.8m tonnes – primarily due to increased government subsidies.
The downturn in imports comes amid a growth in China’s soybean cropping areas – largely the result of subsidy increases for soybean and decreases in corn – as well as promotion of intercropping.
The government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) anticipates its strategy to invigorate soybean production would push the Chinese soybean cropped area to 9.33m hectares by 2020 and 10m hectares by 2022.
Asian Swine Flu outbreak
The government said the latest ASF outbreak has killed one pig and infected 42 more on a farm in Guigang city.
It has been the second reported infection in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in a week.
China has reported 144 outbreaks of the incurable disease since August last year, and culled almost 1.2 million pigs.
The ministry claims the number of fresh outbreaks has dropped this year and that pig production is slowly returning to normal.