Two trends stood out in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 10-year outlook on world soybean trade: China’s appetite for soybeans will remain voracious, and Brazil, not the United States, will be principal supplier of soybeans to the world.
The U.S.D.A. in its U.S.D.A. Agricultural Projections to 2022 issued Feb. 11 forecast China’s soybean imports in 2022-23 at 102.9 million tonnes, which compared with 67.6 million tonnes as forecast for 2013-14.
In commentary accompanying the trade data, the U.S.D.A. said, “China’s soybean imports have risen sharply and now account for more than half of world trade. Over the coming decade, China will face policy decisions regarding the tradeoffs between producing and importing corn and soybeans. The projections assume that Chinese policies will pursue increasing corn production and letting soybean imports increase to fill the shortfall in domestic production.
“China’s modern, efficient but underutilized oilseed crushing capacity is expected to drive strong gains in soybean imports,” the U.S.D.A. continued. “Thus, China’s soybean imports are projected to rise 52% to 103 million tonnes in 2022-23 and to account for more than 90% of the projected growth in global soybean imports.”
Meanwhile, the U.S.D.A. forecast Brazil will eclipse the United States as the world’s largest soybean exporter by 2014-15 and steadily increase its share of world soybean exports in subsequent years of the projection period, mostly at the expense of the United States.
The U.S.D.A. forecast U.S. soybean exports in 2013-14 at 41.2 million tonnes, which would account for a 39.3% share in world soybean exports in that year. The U.S.D.A. forecast Brazilian soybean exports in 2013-14 at 39.4 million tonnes, marking a 37.5% share in world soybean exports. But in the next year, 2014-15, the U.S.D.A. forecast U.S. soybean exports at 40.3 million tonnes, accounting for a 37% share in world soybean exports, compared with Brazilian exports forecast at 42.3 million tonnes, accounting for an export market share of 38.8%.
U.S. soybean exports were forecast to be mostly flat during the rest of the projection period ranging from 41.6 million tonnes (2015-16) to 43.8 million (2022-23), while Brazilian soybean exports were forecast to rise steadily to 63.8 million tonnes in 2022-23.
In 2022-23, the last year in the projection period, the U.S. share in world soybean exports was forecast at 30.4% compared with a 44.2% share forecast for Brazil.The U.S.D.A. said, “Brazilian soybean exports are projected to rise 24.5 million tonnes (62%) to 63.8 million tonnes during the 2013-14-to-2022-23 projection period, enabling the country to strengthen its position as the world’s leading exporter of soybeans and soybean products. As world oilseed prices rise relative to grain prices, soybeans remain more profitable than other crops in most areas of Brazil. With increasing soybean plantings in the Cerrado region and expansion extending into the ‘Amazon Legal’ region, the increase in area planted to soybeans is projected to average just above 2% per year during the coming decade.”