Wheat and Corn Abundance at Unprecedented Levels in China During Jan-Feb 2023
- 23-Mar-2023 4:29 PM
- Journalist: Rene Swann
China: Chinese Wheat and Corn arrivals surged during the first two months of 2023, reaching unprecedented highs for the period. This resulted in decreased demand for other feed grains from the international market, contributing to slow imports of barley and Sorghum.
According to customs data, China imported a total of 3 million tonnes of Wheat in January-February - significantly higher than the 2.19 million tonnes received in the same period of the previous year and marking all-time highs for the reporting period over the past few years.
Australia was the biggest provider of Wheat to China over the past two months, accounting for 52% of imports. France followed with 26% of China's imports and Canada rounded out the top three distributors, supplying 518,700 tonnes in January and February combined.
Corn imports to China reached a record high over the same two-month period, totalling 5.33 million tonnes. This is an increase from 4.69 million tonnes during this time last year, as well as 2.16 million tonnes imported in October-December of 2022. Considering all Corn shipments made in this marketing year so far (2022-23), a total of 7.49 million tonnes has been shipped to Chinese ports thus far.
China has seen a significant increase in Corn imports from Brazil since late 2020, when the country made its first steps towards full openness to this world-leading supplier. January of this year marks the arrival of the first Corn vessel to its ports. Between January and February, a total of 1.48 million tonnes (28% of all imports) have been imported from Brazil into China.
China's buying demand for Corn from Ukraine has taken a hit due to the surge of interest in Brazilian crops. This led to a decrease in imports of Ukrainian Corn, dropping from 57% in the preceding year to 22% within January-February this year. Despite a "grain corridor" launching since last August and 3.77mn t of Corn being shipped to China through it as of 13 March, logistics have not recovered completely yet. Market participants are optimistic that the grain corridor will remain open after 19 March, however slow operations at it are causing bottlenecks in Ukraine's Corn deliveries, thus impacting China's buying demand.
The US remained the largest supplier of Corn to China in December-January, which is the peak season for US Corn exports. These shipments will arrive in China in January-February after a 45–60-day delivery period. Corn imported from the US accounted for 44% of overall imports in January-February compared to 41% during the same period last year.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited that China had booked some 2.2 million tonnes of US Corn in the first three weeks of March. This was due to the competitive nature of US-origin product over other sources and because Brazil's winter Corn is not normally supplied to the market until July, leaving an open window for front-month US crops to be shipped in April-May.
Imports of barley in January and February this year saw a significant fall, dropping to just 958,930 tons - the second-lowest level in the past seven years. This is mainly attributed to the less competitive prices of imported barley compared to domestic and imported Corn, which is making it difficult for Chinese buyers - particularly in the animal feed sector - to purchase the grain. As an alternate source, China has been focusing on securing malt-level products from major suppliers like Canada (71% of imports) and Argentina (14%).
Arrivals of Sorghum dropped significantly over the past two months, according to reports. Imports in that same period were 326,506 metric tons compared to 1.59 million tons imported in 2022 and 1.4 million tons in 2021. Most of the Sorghum was purchased from the United States (48%), Argentina (37%) and Australia (15%).