Canada Markets

Global Soybean Demand and Canada's Role as a Supplier

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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This chart shows USDA's April estimates for the top 10 soybean importers for 2014/15. China's imports, estimated at 74 million metric tons, dwarf all other importing nations and represents 65% of the total global volume imported. (DTN graphic by Nick Scalise)

The attached chart paints an interesting picture of the importance of China in the global soybean trade. The April edition of USDA's Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade projects that China will import 74 million metric tons of soybeans in 2014/15, 3.646 mmt, or 5.2%, higher than last year's volume.

At this volume, China is importing 61.25 mmt more that the next largest importing nation or area, with the European Union estimated to import 12.750 mmt during the crop year. This volume also represents 65% of the 114.212 mmt total volume imported globally which is forecast for 2014/15.

Also of interest is that China's share of global imports has increased over time, having increased four of the past five years. In the 2009/10 crop year, China's share of global imports was 58%.

USDA will release its first estimates for the 2015/16 crop year in its next report to be released on May 12, while a USDA attache report released March 3 has estimated total imports to grow to 77.5 mmt.

USDA has estimated Canada's 2014/15 exports at 3.7 mmt, while current Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada estimates suggest that 4.3 mmt will be exported globally, either of these volumes achieving a record for Canadian exports. Statistics Canada data shows a total volume of 3.090 mmt exported to all destinations to the end of February.

Statistics Canada's early look at producer intentions for 2015 indicated a curious decline in Canada's seeded acreage of soybeans, despite the growth in global demand. Manitoba is expected to boost acres for the eighth consecutive year to 1.3 million acres, while the third year of data reported for Saskatchewan shows a 65,000 acre jump to 335,000 acres. Both Quebec and Ontario are expected to reduce acres planted, with Ontario producers expected to see acres fall 6.5% to 2.870 million acres, the first drop in eight years. Quebec's acreage is expected to fall 9.5% to 778,400 acres, the first drop in three years.

Will this in fact be the case? DTN correspondent and Ontario grain producer Phillip Shaw suggests that some 400,000 acres of winter wheat that failed to get planted last fall are up from grabs this spring, making this drop in soybean acres perhaps difficult to accept. As well, over the past five years, final soybean seeded acres averaged 5.2% higher than the estimated area reported in the March Intentions report.

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