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BEIJING, July 26 (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports in June from top supplier Brazil soared to a record high, according to customs data released on Sunday, driven by growing demand for soybeans as China’s pig herd recovers after deadly outbreaks of African swine fever.
The world’s top soybean buyer brought in 10.51 million tonnes of the oilseed from the South American country in June, up 91% from 5.5 million tonnes in the previous year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. The June figures were also up 18.6% from May imports from Brazil at 8.86 million tonnes.
China’s overall soybean imports in June were a record 11.16 million tonnes as Chinese processors also made the most of lower Brazilian prices as better weather facilitated exports.
China brought in 267,553 tonnes of soybeans from the United States in June, down 56.5% from 614,805 tonnes in the previous year. Imports fell 45.6% from 491,697 tonnes in May.
China has stepped up purchases of U.S. farm produce including soybeans, and will need to ramp up purchases dramatically to fulfil its pledge under a phase 1 trade deal the two sides signed in January.
Some Chinese crushers in the south were struggling with bulging inventories due to arrivals of beans, while heavy rains and flooding in recent weeks curbed demand from the animal farming sector.
Crushing plants in the north are doing better thanks to demand from the recovering pig herd, according to importers.
Inventories are expected to remain high in coming months as shipments from Brazil remain large.
China’s national weekly soybean inventories CFD-SBSTK-NATN reached 7.39 million tonnes by July 21, their highest since November 2018, and more than double a record low in late March, when soybean arrivals from Brazil fell after bad weather slowed exports.
National soymeal stocks also rose to over 1 million tonnes earlier this month, up from a record low of 139,000 tonnes in April. CFD-SBMST-NATN (Reporting by Hallie Gu, Pei Li and Dominique Patton, Writing by Shivani Singh; Editing by William Mallard)