Chinese imports of soyabeans are expected to increase due to the country’s rising demand for soyabean meal and soyabean oil, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report, the USDA increased its forecast for soyabean imports in China to 98M tonnes in 2022/23 and 98.5M tonnes in 2023/24.

“The end of COVID-related restrictions, lower prices following a record soyabean harvest in Brazil, and modest growth in the swine and poultry sectors are expected to increase soyabean meal consumption. Higher subsidies in major soyabean producing regions are expected to modestly increase planted area and production in 2023/24,” the USDA said.

Based on a planted area of 10M ha, China is forecast to produce 19.8M tonnes of soyabeans in 2023/24, according to the 5 July report.

“The forecasted area increase, up 0.2M ha or 2% from the previous year, is mainly driven by government incentives encouraging soyabean planting over corn, intercropping, and use of marginal and less productive lands,” the USDA said.

Despite declining soyabean prices and lower profit margins compared with corn, planted area had increased significantly in the 2022/23 marketing year, the report said.

Forecasted 2023/24 soyabean crushing remained unchanged at 95M tonnes, which was slightly higher than an estimated 94M tonnes for 2022/23.

This reflected moderate demand growth for soyabean products, the report said.

“Losses by swine producers and high feed costs restricted soyabean meal use in the first half of 2023. Nevertheless, with the decline in soyabean meal prices beginning in March, the feed sector appears to be normalising the inclusion of soyabean meal in feed production,” the USDA said.