China imported 5.16 million metric tons of soybeans in October, customs data showed on Tuesday, a 25% surge from a year earlier but lower than analysts expectations as Brazilian soybeans continued to arrive at ports later than usual.
Freshly harvested U.S. soybeans usually dominate the global export market from September while the Brazilian export season winds down, but a record crop in the South American country is expected to dominate China’s imports in the last three months of the year.
China is the world’s top soy buyer and Brazil its largest supplier. Soybeans are crushed into meal for animal feed and oil for cooking.
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The October arrivals were lower than some traders’ expectations of about 6.5 million to 7 million tons. In September, imports of soybeans fell 7.3% from a year earlier.
“The import volume is a little less than expected due to delays in loading at Brazilian ports. In October, many were still loading for September shipments,” said Yuyun Chen, trader with Mingsui International（Shanghai) Trading Co.
He said delayed October cargoes will arrive in November and further lift November imports to about 12 million metric tons.
“We are headed for record high imports this year,” Chen said.
China’s soybean imports are on course for an all-time record of around 105 million tons, according to forecasts last week by traders and analysts.
Around 26 million tons will be imported during the last three months of the year, with around 45% from Brazil, the traders added.
xSoy imports in the first 10 months of the year rose 14.6% year-on-year to 82.42 million tons, the customs data showed.
Lacklustre demand from loss-making hog farms is seen limiting purchases in early 2024.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Christopher Cushing and Miral Fahmy)