Chinese soyabean imports in 2018/19 are expected to fall year-on-year due to the trade conflict with the USA, despite a growing demand for meal from the country’s livestock sector.

The imports were projected to fall by 1M tonnes to 94M tonnes, with total oilseeds intake also decreasing to 100.2M tonnes, reported the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its 10 September GAIN report.

However, demand for oilseeds was forecast to keep rising due to persistent growth in protein meal consumption by the Chinese livestock industry, which was moving towards a large-scale production model.

The total oilseed consumption rate would increase by 2% to 159.8M tonnes in 2018/19, which was projected to keep driving both oilseeds imports and China’s efforts to develop its domestic oilseed production.

Forecast growth for soyabean meal equivalent feed use, however, was down at 3.04M tonnes compared with 2017/18 against earlier estimates of 4M tonnes.

China’s swine sector experienced a profits slump in spring 2018, followed by the first reported cases of African swine fever in August in the heart of China’s pig producing region.

The USDA said that these factors, combined with a likely decrease in the soyabean meal inclusion rate in feed due to China’s 25% tariff on US soyabeans, would slow down total soyabean meal equivalent feed growth.