Demand for oilseeds in China is expected to rise in 2020-21 as the country’s hog and sow herds begin to recover from the impact of African swine fever, according to a report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), World-grain.com reported on 20 March.

According to USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network report published on 19 March, total Chinese oilseeds demand was forecast at 148M tonnes, up from 145M tonnes in 2019-20.

The gradual recovery of the swine and soyabean crush sectors would also increase soyabean imports to 86M tonnes compared to an estimated 84M tonnes in 2019-20, and up from 82.5M tonnes in 2018-19.

The projected increase could be attributed to the recent ‘phase one’ trade agreement between the USA and China, which included the ending of a 25% tariff on US soyabeans.

Tariffs had been in place since July 2018, leading to reduced soyabean imports to China from the USA for an 18-month period, World-grain.com wrote.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, would have a significant impact on vegetable oil demand, according to the USDA report.

“Vegetable oil use, which has shown robust growth in recent years due to a booming hotel, restaurant and institutional sector, is expected to grow more slowly in both 2019-20 and 2020-21 due to the impact of COVID-19 on demand for hotel and culinary services.

“The outbreak of the disease in early 2020 ushered in a period of restaurant closures and government-imposed restrictions on large gatherings, public transportation, and movement within and between provinces, dampening demand in the restaurant and tourism sectors,” the USDA report said.

The report said domestic oilseed production was forecast to show a slight increase, from 59.9M tonnes in 2019-20 to 60.6M tonnes in 2020-21.

Soyabean output was projected unchanged at 17.3M tonnes, based on stable acreage and average yield.

Rapeseed production was also projected at an unchanged 13.2M tonnes due to flat yield and planted area.