China cuts 21/22 soybean import outlook amid weak meal demand

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) further lower its estimate for soybean imports in the current marketing year as weak demand for soybean meal this year significantly limited soybean buying. 

Total soybean import estimate for 2021/22 marketing year was cut by nearly 2 million tons from the projection last month to 91 million tons, down roughly 9% compared to the previous marketing year, according to the latest China Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (Casde) from MARA. 

The figure was adjusted lower against the backdrop of a steep drop of demand for soybean meal from China’s massive hog industry which have suffered from heavy losses since the second half of 2022. 

“The main reasons for this are the longer duration of hog breeding losses earlier this year, weak demand for domestic soybean meal, shrinking soybean crush volumes, and falling purchases of imported soybeans,” MARA said. 

The projection for China’s soybean import in 2021/22 has been retreating continuously this year as crushers struggled to ramp up cargo purchases amid negative crush margins and poor demand from end users such as animal feed producers and hog breeding corporations. 

Soybean crush demand this marketing year was lowered by almost 1.5 million tons from the figure last month to 90.54 million tons in August Casde, and it was down nearly 5% year on year. 

Gross soybean demand for 2021/22 has been updated to 107.88 million tons, down 5% on the year. 

China has imported 76.73 million tons of soybeans in 2021/22 marketing year as of July 2022. With two months left in the marketing year, imports in August and September will need to average 7.16 million tons each month to hit the target. 

In comparison, Chinese soybean imports averaged 8.2 million tons per month during the same two months last year. 

China’s marketing year runs from October to September, as opposed to the US standard of September to August.