Brazil can’t grow enough soybeans to satisfy Chinese demand

SAO PAULO: Demand for Brazilian soybeans is so strong that the world’s biggest producer is on track to import a record amount of the oilseed.

Imports through July almost tripled from the same period last year to 398,000 metric tonnes.

While the incoming amount is a fraction of the 51.2 million tonnes shipped out of Brazil in the same span, the growth reveals an unusual situation: Brazil is running short of soybeans.

Processing industries are bringing the oilseed from Paraguay for crushing as exports continue breaking records.

The weakness of the Brazilian real – this year’s worst-performing major currency – helped boost the nation’s exports amid robust Chinese demand. Local consumption is also strong on higher use for feed and biodiesel.

“We’ll see bigger import numbers in the second half, with the possibility of some purchases even from the US,” said Luiz Fernando Roque, an analyst at Safras & Mercado consulting firm. Soybean imports may reach 1 million tonnes this year, an all-time-high, he said.

While Brazil harvested a record 121 million tonnes this year, according to the latest government estimate, it could have been higher if not for adverse weather in Rio Grande do Sul state.

Ending stocks this year are seen at 669,000 tonnes by local soy processing group Abiove, the lowest since the beginning of the series in 1999.