China, the world’s biggest importer of farm commodities, ramped up purchases in the first two months of this year to plug growing local shortages and to keep food prices under control.
The country shipped in almost 5 million tons of corn in January and February, more than five times the amount unloaded a year earlier, according to customs Thursday. That included an all-time monthly high of 3 million tons in January.
China has been scooping up record amounts of corn and soybeans from overseas to feed the world’s largest hog herd, which is recovering from African swine fever.
The country faces shortages of farm commodities because of a lack of productive farmland and increasing demand from a more affluent population, and is trying to boost yields and reduce wastage.
Asia’s largest economy bought almost six million tons of U.S. corn in one week earlier this year, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported sales totaling more than 3 million tons this week.
The USDA expects the nation’s imports of the feed grain to more than triple to 24 million tons this marketing year.
Wheat imports more than tripled to 2.5 million tons, including 1.5 million tons in January, the most for one month in at least 20 years.
Beef shipments climbed 34% to 400,000 tons, including an all-time monthly high of 240,000 tons in January. Pork imports rose 26% to 700,000 tons in the first two months.
Sorghum shipments more than quadrupled to 1.4 million tons, with the January total of 690,000 tons the most for a month since 2017. Sugar imports more than tripled to about 1 million tons in the first two months.
Cotton shipments in January at 400,000 tons were the highest monthly total since 2013 amid a recovery in the textile industry.
Bloomberg / ABC Flash Point Trade News 2021.