(Repeats earlier the story without any changes to text)
BEIJING, April 26 (Reuters) - China’s March soybean imports from top supplier Brazil fell 24.8% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Sunday, after rains delayed cargoes.
China, the world’s biggest soybean buyer, imported 2.1 million tonnes soybeans from Brazil, down from 2.79 million tonnes in March of last year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Rains in Brazil in late February have held back the harvest there and the export of the commodity, leading to record low inventories of both soybeans and soybean meal in China.
Some soybean crushers have been forced to curb operations due to the supply shortage.
Chinese buyers also bought fewer cargoes for March because they were expecting the typical slowdown in demand seen after the Spring Festival holiday.
However, shipments from the United States reached 1.71 million tonnes in March, up from last year’s 1.51 million tonnes.
China’s total soybean imports in March fell 13% from the same month last year to their lowest in more than five years, customs data showed on Tuesday.
China imports soybeans to crush into soymeal to make feed for the livestock sector and for cooking oil.
Soybean shipments to China in April and the coming months were expected to rise as weather conditions eased in Brazil and cargoes booked from the United States under the Phase 1 trade deal arrived.
China bought more U.S. soybean cargoes on Tuesday, and plans to boost its state reserves with U.S. crops. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Shivani Singh; Editing by Tom Hogue and Gareth Jones)