May 2, 2014


China's huge soy demand fuel US, Brazil and Argentina's exports



China, the world's largest soy buyer, has increased soy imports from 0.8 million tonnes in 1979 to a currently estimated 69 million tonnes for the 2013 crop year, fuelling the increase in US , Brazil and Argentina soy exports.
Since 2000, China's soy imports have increased by nearly 4.3 million tonnes a year. Imports of soymeal and soyoil by China are relatively small over the whole period. China is now the largest importer of soy complex in the world at 70.1 million tonnes.

Soy exports have experienced a dramatic increase over the years since 1979. In that year, soy exports were 23.8 million tonnes, increasing to an estimated 41.0 million tonnes for the 2013 crop year. For soymeal, the increase over that period was from 7.2 million tonnes to 9.9 million tonnes. Soyoil saw a decline in exports from 1.2 million tonnes to 0.7 million tonnes over the same period of time.


Taken together, soy complex--soy plus soymeal plus soyoil--exports totalled 32.2 million tonnes in 1979, increasing to an estimated 51.6 million tonnes for the 2013 crop.

All countries, excluding the US and China, imported 48.2 million tonnes of soy complex in 1979. For the 2013 crop year, it is estimated that these countries will import 100.6 million tonnes of soy complex. Since 2000, these imports have increased by 1.4 million tonnes per year, a rate far below that of China. Since 2006 the import of soy complex by countries other than China has hit a plateau, making the livelihood of millions of soy farmers very dependent upon China.

Corn exports peaked at 61 million tonnes in the 1979 crop year, exceeding that level only once--62 million tonnes in 2007--in the next 34 years. US corn exports fell below the 50.8 million tonnes mark in 26 of those 34 years. The current estimate for 2013 crop year corn exports is 40.6 million tonnes.


The peak for wheat exports occurred in 1981, with 49 million tonnes leaving US ports. In the years since then, wheat exports fell below 27 million tonnes seven times. Wheat exports are currently estimated to be just less than 32.7 million tonnes for the 2013 crop year--⅔ of their 1981 level.


The exports for sorghum, barley and rice are far smaller than corn, wheat and soy and only rice has seen an increase.




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