China Nov. soybean imports rebound sharply amid US Gulf disruption

China’s total soybean imports in November this year rebounded sharply compared to the previous month as lower water draft in the Mississippi River impacted soybean exports out of the US Gulf and forced buyers to shift buying interest to US West Coast.

Imports last month reached 7.35 million tons, up nearly 78% from the volume in October this year, according to the latest data from China’s General Administration of Customs on Wednesday.

One of the key reasons behind China’s soybean import spike in November was the lower water draft level in the Mississippi River which negatively impacted barge transportations of grains and oilseed to elevation facilities in New Orleans.

Barge prices surged due to a sudden drop of river shipment volume at the beginning of November, and FOB export prices for US soybean out of the Gulf also skyrocketed.

Hence, Chinese buyers turned to US Pacific Northwest (PNW) for alternative supplies, which means the voyage time will also be shortened from 45 days to roughly 25 days.

November shipments from the US Gulf most likely arrive between mid-December and mid-January, but those from the PNW could reach Chinese shores in less than a month.

Despite the sharp month-on-month rebound, imports in November remained 14% lower year on year.

So far in 2022 calendar year, China has imported 80.55 million tons of soybeans, down more than 8% year on year.

With one month left in 2022, it is a likely event that China’ annual soybean imports will fall for the second consecutive year since 2020.

Annual soybean imports into China in 2020 and 2021 were 100.32 million tons and 96.53 million tons respectively.