US soybean exports to China slump in October amid limited port capacity
The US soybean exports to China in October fell sharply compared with last year amid logistical disruptions caused by Hurricane Ida in the US Gulf Coast, market sources told S&P Global Platts Nov. 23.
According to China’s monthly customs report released Nov. 20, US exported 775,331 mt of soybeans in October, compared with 3.4 million mt in the same month last year.
Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm with 150 mph when it made the landfall in Louisiana Aug. 29, had hit grain elevators in New Orleans, a major corridor for US soybean and corn exports, accounting for almost 60% of total US grains exports.
As a result, some grain terminals were forced to close for weeks, leading to severe logistical bottlenecks.
The US soybean export volumes generally soar at the start of harvest during mid-September and continue till February. Export volumes then gradually slow down until the start of the next marketing year in September.
With US Gulf Coast grain elevators operating again to full capacity in recent days, US soybean November soybean exports to China — world’s largest beans importer — are likely to be substantially higher month on month.
Brazilian soybean exports to China slumped in October as well, customs data showed.
China imported 3.3 million mt of beans in October from Brazil — world’s largest oilseed supplier — down 22% year on year, according to the customs report.
Weak crush margin in China has not be encouraging enough for the local crushers to purchase more beans, analysts said.
China-based crushers have been struggling with high soybean input costs, while the demand for soy-based animal feed has slowed since mid-2021. As a result, the crush margin has been mostly in negative territory since June.
According to Platts data, China Soybean Gross Crush margin for January was assessed at $7.01/mt Oct. 22, compared with $28/mt average margin in January.
However, notwithstanding the weak crush margin, Platts Analytics expect China’s soybean imports in marketing year 2021-22 (October-September) at a record 102 million mt on the back of robust hog herd growth in the country.
China’s total soybean imports in October dropped 41.2% on the year to 5.11 million mt, according to the previous release from customs department Nov. 7.
From January through October, China has imported 79.08 million mt of beans, down 5% from the corresponding period a year ago, data showed.