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Soy prices still exposed: China reduces harvests

25-Apr-2005

Pressure on soy prices likely to continue with a new report revealing China is expected to reduce its principal soybean planting area, while increasing corn and rice planting in 2005.

Soybean acreage in China's largest soybean producing province, Heilongjian, is likely to fall by 3.1 per cent on year to 2.77 million hectares this year, according to a government report.

The report did not provide any explanation for the expected changes, says the American Soybean Association.

China, with its 1.3 billion consumers, has the power to sway market prices. A reduction in soybean crops for the country will raise imports from the US and Brazil, pulling on global stocks and pushing up prices on the world market.

While stocks are just starting to pick up for soybeans and consequently a slight relief in prices, over the past four years inventories for this increasingly popular commodity fell to 30 year lows: prices are therefore still exposed to an upside risk.

Early estimates are that 2.8 million tonnes will be exported to China this month from the US, Brazil and Argentina. This compares with 2.15 million tonnes in March and exceeds last year's 2.3 million tonnes "despite talk that China has delayed some cargoes for future shipment", says the ASA.

China's increasingly affluent consumers are transforming China's food sector, both domestically and in foreign trade: pushing up demand for food commodities and food products from around the world.

According to new figures from market research and training body IGD, China will become the world's second largest food retail market by 2020 behind the US.

In 2003 the Chinese food market was 35 per cent of the size of the US market; by 2020 this will figure will rise to a considerable 82 per cent.

The ASA reports that May soybean futures closed up $2.57 finishing at $234.33; July was $2.30 higher, closing at $237.09 and August gained $2.20 ending at $236.54. May soybean oil closed $6.39 higher to finish at $505.96; July increased $6.83, closing at $511.03; and August gained $6.39, ending at $509.92.

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