Fundamentally Speaking

Is China Winding Down Soybean Purchases?

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst
Chart by Joel Karlin, DTN Contributing Analyst

The real key to what extent the USDA may boost its 2020/21 U.S. soybean export projection is China and how much more appetite they have for U.S. product.

This graphic shows U.S. soybean sales to China as of second week of October and change in sales to that country from that point to end of marketing year in million bushels (mb) on the left-hand axis vs. the percent that Chinese has taken of total U.S soybean sales as of the second week in October and the percent that China took of final sales for each year on the right-hand axis.

Of the 1.589 billion bushels (bb) sold as of the second week in October, China has purchased 871 mb worth, the most ever and 55% of the total sold.

We have seen years however where China has accounted for an even higher percent share of total U.S. soybean exports by this point in the marketing year including the whole period from 2009-2015 when it averaged 62.6%.

For all those years the final percent that China took was 59.2% suggesting that perhaps our sales to the PRC are front-end loaded.

We note that USDA has pegged Chinese soybean imports this year at 100 million metric tonnes (mmt), just 2.6 mmt higher than the previous year, so the huge jump in USDA export projections from last year to this year should account for that.

Against that backdrop also consider that the USDA for some reason has South American exports 10 mmt lower this year than last.

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