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Cargill Says China Grain Imports Won't Slow Significantly

China’s imports of corn, soybeans and other feed grain won’t be significantly slowed as expansion in the world’s second-biggest economy moderates, Cargill Inc. Chief Risk Officer Emery Koenig said.

“The outlook remains positive for soybeans and feed grain” imports including corn, Koenig said in an interview in Beijing today where he’s attending a conference. Growing wealth in China is fueling increased consumption of meat, driving demand for animal feed and establishing a “very positive trend of growth,” he said.

Chinese economic growth slowed in the first quarter to the weakest since 2009 as the government’s campaign to rein in inflation and home prices eroded domestic consumption and the European debt crisis curbed exports. Demand for grains hasn’t slowed because of increased industrial use and livestock consumption, with China National Grain & Oils Information Center estimating corn imports may more than triple this year.

“China will be an increasing corn importer,” Koenig said. Demand for China and government mandates for biofuels are supporting global agricultural commodity prices, he said.

Increased industrial and livestock consumption of corn in China has lifted prices in the past two years even as output gained, diminishing the nation’s self-sufficiency, Agriculture Minister Han Changfu said last month. Production growth is limited by low yields, lack of water and technology, which can be improved with policy and technological support, he said.

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