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China Soybean Imports Seen Lower Than USDA Forecast Amid Delays

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March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Soybean imports by China, the world’s biggest buyer, may be less than a forecast by the U.S. government as weakening demand and delays at Brazilian ports cut shipments.

China may purchase about 59 million metric tons in the 12 months through September, compared with 63 million tons projected by U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the median of a survey of three researchers and two traders by Bloomberg News.

Protests by dock workers and a record backlog at Brazil’s ports have cut shipments from China’s second-biggest supplier. Declining cooking oil prices and lower profits in the hog industry have reduced demand for soybean oil and meal. Soybean futures have fallen 19 percent in Chicago from a record high reached in September while prices on the Dalian Commodity Exchange are 5.2 below their high of the same month.

The USDA may have over-estimated China’s demand, even before delays in Brazil, Bell Chen, vice president of RJ O’Brien & Associates LLC, said yesterday in an interview in Kunming, southwest China. The company provides brokerage services to Chinese crushers.

China had about 4.85 million tons of imported soybean at major ports as of last week, compared with 5.35 million tons a month ago, according to grain.gov.cn, a state-owned market researcher.

The price of live hogs, China’s main source of meat, fell 11 percent this year through March 6 to 14.52 yuan ($2.33) per kilogram, according to data from the National Development and Reform Commission.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: William Bi in Beijing at wbi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Miller at bmiller30@bloomberg.net

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