Uruguay soybean exports to China surpass Argentina for the first time

Uruguayan soybean exports to China this year have exceed the volume from its neighboring country Argentina for the first time in history as rising inflation and lower production forced Chinese buyers to shift their buying interest.

As of October 2022, China has imported nearly 1.6 million tons of soybeans from Uruguay this year, doubling the volume imported in the entire 2021, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.

In comparison, China cleared just 1.04 million tons of Argentinian soybeans between January and October this year.

This means that Chinese soybean imports from Uruguay surpassed those from Argentina for the first time.

China’s monthly imports from Uruguay consistently outpaced those from Argentina since July this year, reflecting a slow sales pace from Argentinian exporters.

As Argentina suffered a setback on its soybean production in 2021/22 marketing year and inflation continued to creep higher due to a weaker currency, the reluctance of sale from Argentinian farmers increased, causing prices to rise.

Argentinian soybean exports shrank to less than 3 million tons in 2021/22 compared to 5.2 million tons in 2020/21.

As supply from Argentina tightened, Chinese crushers turned to Uruguay for cheaper alternative.

Despite that soybean harvests in the two neighboring South American countries normally ramp up in May each year, the first cargo of 2021/22 Argentinian soybeans did not arrive in China until July this year.

However, China had already imported more than 142,000 tons of Uruguayan soybeans in June this year.

In sharp contrast, Chinese soybean imports from Argentina in June 2020 were nearly 306,000 tons, while the volume from Uruguay during the same month was just 40,277 tons.

In terms of China’s soybean imports from other origins, volume from Brazil in October 2022 was 2.8 million tons, nearly halved from the previous month and it was also down 15% compared to October 2021.

Imports from the US last month totaled 773,167 tons in October, down a third month on month and was nearly flat year on year.