China’s Soybean Imports Drop on Brazilian Shipping Bottleneck

Soybean imports by China, the biggest buyer, plunged in March from a year ago as logistical bottlenecks delayed Brazilian shipments while losses by hog farmers reduced consumption.

Imports were 3.84 million metric tons last month, 21 percent less than a year ago, the General Administration of Customs said on its website today. Shipments in the first quarter fell 13 percent to 11.49 million tons, the data show.

Ships at Brazilian ports may need to wait at least six weeks to load soybeans after rains worsened bottlenecks, Oil World said yesterday. Trucks were lined up 4.4 miles (7 kilometers) to the port of Santos, road operator Ecovias said yesterday. The price of hogs in China has since March 6 fallen below a break-even point determined by the National Development and Reform Commission, prompting the top planner to invoke a price-boosting measure this month by stockpiling frozen pork.

“Chinese soybean imports are going to fall this year,” said Guo Qingbao, oilseed analyst at Cngrain.com, a Zhengzhou, Henan-based researcher owned by China Grain Reserves Corp. While the shipping difficulty with Brazilian soybeans was unexpected, China’s demand has slowed since last year, he said.

The contract for September delivery on the Dalian Commodity Exchange traded at 4,808 yuan ($776) a ton at 2:04 p.m. in Beijing, while soybeans for May on the Chicago board of trade were at $13.935 a bushel.

April’s imports may be 4.2 million tons, less than 4.89 million tons last year, state-owned researcher Grain.gov.cn said in an e-mailed report today. Imports in the year through Sept. 30 may be 59 million tons, compared with 63 million tons forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the median of a survey of three researchers and two traders by Bloomberg News last month.

— With assistance by William Bi

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