China May Have 20 Million Ton Corn Deficit by 2020, Center Says

Corn demand in China, the second-biggest consumer, may outstrip domestic production by as much as 20 million metric tons by 2020, boosting imports, a government policy researcher said.

The use of corn to produce biochemical products is growing rapidly and may make China a “large corn importer” so as to meet demand, according to Cheng Guoqiang, deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council.

China’s increased reliance on imported corn may help drive up food prices and spur investment in agriculture. Imports in the 2012-2013 marketing year beginning Oct. 1 may rise to 8.9 million tons from estimated 6.6 million tons this year, Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. said March 19.

“With food demand set to rise irrespective of prices, insufficient corn supply will become routine,” Cheng said in slides prepared for a conference in Boao today. Bumper domestic harvests won’t ease the supply deficit, he said.

Rising domestic corn prices will prompt farmers to switch to corn while cutting planting of soybeans and cotton, Cheng said. Annual corn demand for industrial use has increased to 45 million tons to 50 million tons from 38 million tons in 2008, he said in the slides.

Imports by China may reach 20 million tons by 2020 on the basis of domestic yields of 5.68 tons per hectare, Fan Zhenyu, deputy general manager at the corn division of COFCO Corp., said this month.

— With assistance by William Bi

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