While the number could change on Friday, Chinese import demand will reach a staggering 97 million metric tonnes this year, according to the USDA.
That’s a 3.7% jump from the previous crop year, and 15% better than the five-year average.
It’s also the 16th straight year of increases in soybean imports.
The uptick in imports is part of the broader surge in Chinese livestock demand across the nation. The dietary transition of consumers to purchase more beef, pork, and poultry has fueled a significant expansion in the nation’s production.
Last summer, China’s Ministry of Agriculture released an opinion paper calling for the accelerated development of animal husbandry in its Northeastern regions. This paper calls for greater development of both livestock breeding operations and domestic feed industries.
The USDA FAS noted in October 2017 that Chinese hog producers began a massive period of expansion last year that is expected to increase through the end of the year. After two years of weak production, the nation’s hog industry experienced a wave of consolidation. The emergence of fewer, larger producers enabled them to scale up output and drive greater efficiencies.
For example, Guangdong Wen’s Foodstuff Group, a major producer plans to expand its hog herd from 17 million this year to 27.5 million in 2019.
Chinese pork production is slated to increase from 53.5 million metric tonnes in 2017 to 54.75 million metric tonnes this year. This figure is the largest since 2015. China’s pork imports are slated to decline from 1.65 million MT to 1.60 MMT this year.
Meanwhile, Chinese beef and veal production are expected to expand, according to the USDA. The agency projected that Chinese production will increase from 7.07 million MT to 7.11 MMT.