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Report: China becomes world's largest wheat importer

With wheat at a discount, some Chinese feed mills have substituted corn with imported wheat in feed rations.

Candice Candice |
Candice Candice |

In its monthly Grain: World Markets and Trade report on April 11, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service said China wheat imports are forecast up to 12.0 million tons this year, which is the country’s highest level of imports since 1995/96 when imports reached 12.5 million.

Domestic grain prices in China have remained high given the country’s minimum support price policy and reduced auction activity amidst uncertainty surrounding the government’s COVID-19 policies.

Chinese wheat prices have lingered around $450/ton over the past year while Chinese corn prices have averaged above $400/ton. Meanwhile, international wheat prices have trended lower over the past few months, falling below $400/ton with ample exportable supplies from Australia, the European Union and Canada.

Competitive pricing has prompted China to import large volumes of both milling and feed quality wheat. Australian wheat is especially competitive following three consecutive years of record crops. China continues to aggressively purchase Australian wheat supplies, with July-February imports up 66% compared to the previous year. Imports from Canada, which supplies hard red milling wheat to the Chinese market, are up 83% year over year.

Animal feed mills substitute corn with imported wheat

With international wheat at a discount to domestic grain, some Chinese feed mills have substituted corn with imported wheat in feed rations.

Although China’s wheat feed use is down year over year as corn feed use rebounds, it still represents a quarter of the country’s total wheat consumption.

Food, seed and industrial use, meanwhile, remains robust.

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