China has made progress in increasing its soyabean self-sufficiency following the launch of a national policy to reduce the country’s use of soyabean meal in livestock and poultry feeds, according to sources quoted in a Feed&Grain report.

For the January to November 2023 period, soyabean use in feed was 4.44M tonnes, 11% lower than in the same period the previous year, according to data published by China’s agriculture ministry (MARA) reported by Mintec Global.

The decline in soyabean use came despite a 4% year-on-year increase in total feed output at just below 287M tonnes, MARA said.

In the past, China relied heavily on imports to meet demand for soyabean meal in animal feeds, according to Mintec Global, with Brazil and the USA the leading suppliers.

Demand had been so strong that in 2022, the average inclusion rate in Chinese feeds was 14.5%.

However, last year, the ministry announced a series of measures aimed at reducing soyabean imports, the 20 December report said.

The three-year action plan included research into alternative feed proteins, increased use of grass and other feedstuffs, and a controlled reduction in soyabean inclusion by 0.5%/year.

For the full 2023 year, the ministry was forecasting a drop of 1.5% in the inclusion rate of soyabean meal in feed compared with the previous year. This would reduce the usage in feeds by more than 9M tonnes for 2023 compared with the previous 12 months.

Speaking at a national rural work conference, China President Xi Jinping had urged participants to prioritise an increase in national soyabean production, Feed&Grain wrote.

Chinese forecasts of reduced soyabean meal use contrasted with previous expectations, with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasting last October that China’s soyabean import volume in the 2023/24 marketing year would be at a similar level to the previous year, when the total was 100.85M tonnes, driven by strong trade from Brazil and continued demand from the Chinese feed industry.