Brazil soyabean exports are forecast to reach a record level of 84M tonnes in 2020/21, World Grain reported on 15 July from forecasts made by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA said the forecast in its 14 July Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report was based on available supplies and an extremely favourable exchange rate.

A continued weakness of the domestic currency was anticipated by the USDA amid the expected sluggish economy dealing with the effects of COVID-19. Brazil’s nearly 2M cases of COVID-19 ranked second in the world behind the USA and, as of mid-June, the government had forecast GDP to shrink by 7% in 2020.

“The export forecast assumes that global demand for soyabeans will not see a severe downturn connected with the coronavirus pandemic,” the USDA said.

“Unlike a multitude of other sectors, soyabean consumption has limited elasticity. In China and Europe — key soyabean importers — despite the economic slowdown, meat consumption is not likely to suffer a dramatic downturn.”

The USDA noted that in the 2019-20 marketing year, the Brazilian grain transportation system had performed better than anticipated. Brazil’s largest port located outside of São Paulo in Santos loaded a record 4.6M tonnes of soyabeans in April, up 68% from the previous year. Similarly, the port of Paranaguá shipped 2.4M tonnes of soya and soya products in May, twice the amount shipped during the same month in 2019.

“Containment of coronavirus has been key to the Brazilian ports’ performance,” the USDA said. “Early on in the pandemic, rumours of a strike at Santos forced the government and private industry to come up with an enhanced protection and mitigation protocol to ward off coronavirus outbreaks. At the port of Santos, managers also developed contingency plans to hire contracted workers if absenteeism put operations at risk.

“Although there have been sporadic reports of workers testing positive for coronavirus at various export terminals of Brazilian ports, as of late June there were no reports of contagion.”

The previous Brazilian soyabean export record of 83.7M tonnes was set in 2017-18.