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China Oilseed, Vegetable Oil Imports Seen Reaching Record

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- China’s oilseed and vegetable oil imports are forecast to climb to a record in 2012-13, boosted by demand for soybeans and palm oil, according to Oil World.

The country’s oilseeds imports may rise to 65.3 million metric tons in the year through September 2013 from 63.1 million tons in 2011-12, and vegetable-oil and fat imports may climb to 10.8 million tons from 9.98 million tons, the Hamburg, Germany-based industry researcher wrote in a report today.

China’s per-capita consumption of oils and fats is close to 26 kilograms (57 pounds) a year, according to Oil World. Demand from parts of the Chinese population is largely met, meaning future per-capita consumption growth probably will be slower, the researcher wrote.

Growth “forecast for 2012-13 is still among the lowest rates achieved in recent years,” Oil World wrote. “Tightening supplies and rising prices of oils and fats will take their toll on demand in the further course of this season.”

China’s soybean imports are forecast to advance to 62 million tons from 59.2 million tons.

“Consumption is likely to exceed combined domestic production and imports, thus resulting in a decline of Chinese soybean stocks,” Oil World said. “Replenishment of government granaries will be required in 2013 after as many as 3.9 million tons of soybeans were sold from state reserves in 2012.”

The country’s purchases of palm oil are predicted to rise to 6.65 million tons in 2012-13 from 5.95 million tons a year earlier, according to the researcher.

China took advantage of “attractive” prices for sunflower-seed oil, buying 150,000 tons of the commodity, according to Oil World.

“Chinese importers may thus take advantage of the fact that sunflower oil has recently still been offered on par with soya oil,” the researcher wrote. “Rising sunflower oil imports may cater to the needs of affluent Chinese consumer groups.”

Consumers in Russia are increasingly shifting to palm oil as a result of reduced supplies and higher prices for sunflower-seed oil, Oil World said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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