China’s ag ministry sent a document to animal feed producers and other government departments outlining plans for nutrition experts to develop guidelines on ways to replace corn and soymeal with alternative grains, three industry sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. China’s animal nutrition committee is expected to submit a plan to the ag ministry’s animal husbandry and veterinary bureau by March 31, with that bureau expected to review and approve a plan by April 10. At that point, the plan that’s intended to promote greater use of rice, wheat and other meals in feed rations will be released to the public.
Today’s news paired with record-high corn prices within China and aggressive Chinese imports of corn signal the country likely has a bigger supply gap than it has let on. China has purchased more than 21 MMT of corn from the U.S. alone this marketing year. This also comes in the midst of China’s efforts to rebuild its hog herd after it was slashed by African swine fever (ASF) and amid the country’s growing push to improve food security.
Dramatic year-to-year increases in China’s grain imports
China imported 1.78 MMT of corn during February, a dramatic 557% surge from year-ago levels, according to Chinese customs data. Just two months into 2021, China has imported 4.8 MMT of the grain, a 414% surge from year-ago and representing two-thirds of its 7.2 MMT low tariff rate quota (TRQ) for all of 2021.
The country also imported 990,000 MT of wheat during February, a 189% surge from year-ago, with year-to-date exports of the grain now at 2.48 MMT, up 265% from 2020 at this time. That represents a quarter of the country’s 9.636 MMT TRQ for wheat in 2021.
The country’s cumulative imports of sorghum (1.4 MMT) and barley (1.32 MMT) have also soared 366% and 79%, respectively, relative to last year at this point.