Soyabean imports in China are forecast to hit a record 100M tonnes in 2022/23 due to increased feed demand and high prices of protein-rich substitutes, according to data by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported by AgriCensus on 18 March.

If correct, USDA’s 17 March forecast would represent a 5M tonne year-on-year increase compared to its revised estimate that placed China’s 2021/22 imports at 95M tonnes, which would be 1M tonnes above the organisation’s earlier official figure released on 9 March.

The USDA expected China’s 2022/23 consumption to reach 18.4M tonnes, the report said.

“After suffering from high feed costs, weak demand, and over-production in marketing year 2021/22, moderate growth and profitability is expected to return to the swine and poultry sectors in the 2022/23 marketing year, leading to 2.2M tonnes of total consumption growth,” the report said.

The increase in soyabean imports is also expected to be supported by higher soya meal usage in animal feed linked to higher prices of substitute products, according to the report.

Crushing volumes in China were also expected to increase in 2022/23, the report said, but plants would remain under-used.

China’s soyabean production is expected to increase by 1M tonnes year-on-year in 2022/23 to 17.4M tonnes due to a higher planted area, according to the report.

However, the USDA Beijing office highlighted the country’s dependence on a small number of overseas suppliers.

“The ability to shift significant volumes of purchases to suppliers outside of Brazil, the USA and Argentina, is limited and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future,” the statement said.