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USDA GAIN: Oilseeds, Cotton, Sugar, Grain and Feed

14 March 2013

USDA GAIN: China Oilseeds and Products Annual 2013USDA GAIN: China Oilseeds and Products Annual 2013

MY13/14 total oilseed production is forecast at 54.9 million tons, down by 2.2 percent, primarily cottonseed, from the estimated 56.2 million tons in MY12/13. Rising consumer affluence supports increasing demand for animal and fish protein and vegetable oils. In response, advancements in concentrated animal and aquatic production, growth in the feed industry and expansion in the crushing sector are spurring demand and the need for protein imports, such as soybeans and rapeseed, given insufficient domestic production. Thus, total oilseed demand will stay strong, particularly for soybeans, with MY13/14 total oilseed consumption forecast at 123.5 million tons, up from an estimated 121.7 million tons in MY12/13. Total oilseed imports in MY13/14 are forecast to reach 68.9 million tons from 66.1 million tons in MY12/13.
USDA GAIN Report - Oilseeds, Cotton, Sugar, Grain and Feed

Oilseeds Situation and Outlook

China is the world’s largest oilseed consumer. Population growth and dietary demands overwhelm limited domestic capabilities, leaving China dependent on foreign suppliers, particularly the U.S., Brazil and Argentina, to meet its supply gap.

Total MY13/14 oilseed production is forecast at 54.9 million tons based on planted area of 24.7 million hectares, both down 2.2 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, over the previous year. Favorable profit signals in MY12/13 for soybeans provide a slight production recovery in MY 13/14 to 12 million tons, given average yields on 6.8MHa and slows an ongoing decline in planting area. Likewise, higher rapeseed prices in MY12/13 are expected to lift rapeseed production in MY 13/14 to 12.7 million tons based on a planted area of 7.05 MHa. However, weak profits to cotton farmers in the Yellow/Yangtze river regions in MY 12/13, due to rising production costs, will cause reduced MY13/14 cotton acreage and a five percent drop in cottonseed supply. Despite strong demand and stable profits, MY13/14 peanut production, which hit a record high in MY12/13, peaks at 16 million tons as land limitations constrain further expansion.

Chart 1 – China’s Major Oilseed Production
(MY09/10 to MY13/14; in 10,000 tons)

Source: China Agriculture Statistics Report; Cottonseed by FAS/Beijing; MY12/13 and MY13/14 data estimates /forecast by FAS/Beijing

Based on China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Chart 2 shows the national average profit from major oilseed crops in recent years. Excluding peanut’s rising profit trend, the other major oilseed products show struggling revenue performance over the past 5 years. As a result, market signals and Government grain incentives have been pulling limited arable land toward more profitable grain crops and away from oilseeds. In addition to losing acreage, inadequate production tools - from economies of scale, agronomic practices, technology resources and input quality – have limited oilseed yield gains.

Chart 2-Nation Average Profit/Ha for Oilseeds (2007 to 2011; RMB/Ha)

Source: 2012 Nation Agricultural Product Production Cost and profit



Soybean production in MY13/14 is forecast at 12 million tons, down 500,000 tons from the previous year, based on stable planting area from MY12/13 and an above-average yield. MY12/13 soybean production is estimated low at 12.5 million tons, favorable weather enhanced yields. The national average for soybean yield has remained constant for several years (excluding an MY09/10 abnormal weather disruption in Northeast China), ranging from 1.7 to 1.8 tons/Ha. Small-scale farm size, lack of agronomic techniques, such as soybean crop rotation, and limited access to better inputs remain major impediments to yield increases, factors which are unlikely to change in the near future.

Profit signals continue to impact planting decisions in major production areas where corn, rice and soybeans are all options. National Development Research Council data indicated MY11/12 per hectare profit for soybeans at RMB1,590 ($245)/Ha, far below corn at RMB4,140 ($637)/Ha and rice at RMB6,000 ($923)/Ha in Heilongjiang Province. Soybean returns in MY 12/13 are estimated at $619/Ha for soybeans versus $870/Ha for corn. Higher profits have already influenced farmers with the option to switch to more profitable grain crops. In Heilongjiang, for example, soybean planting area is estimated at 2.66 MHa in MY12/13 from 3.4MHa in the previous year. Some farmers in the Northeast (Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin) have limited crop choices due to climatic growing conditions.

Chart 3 - Heilongjiang Soybean Planted Area (1,000 Ha)
And Net Profit for Alternative Crops (RMB/Ha)

Source: NDRC

To stimulate soybean production, the government maintains a soybean production support program. From January 23rd-April 30th, 2013, the government offers RMB6,400 ($730)/ton, a 15 percent increase over last year, for an unlimited amount of Northeast provinces (Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin) soybeans. This will also impact MY13/14 planting decisions as farmers bank on receiving this same minimum price or higher.

Chart 4 - State Purchase Floor Price for Soybeans (2009 to 2012; RMB/ton)

Source: State Grain Administration

Based on CNGOIC data, the December wholesale soybean price averaged $715/ton in Heilongjiang, up 14 percent over January 2012(See chart 5 - Exchange rate in 2012: RMB6.3 =$1.0). The impact of higher world soybean prices on soybean demand (for crush) in China is not expected to significantly change domestic demand or planting area expectations for MY 13/14. A significant area increase is unlikely given soybeans modest profit signals, lucrative alternative crops and limited land constraints.

Chart 5 – Soybean Wholesale Price in 2012 (RMB/ton)

Source: China National Grains & Oils Information Center, Beijing


According to CNGOIC information, as of January 20th, the total purchase of MY12/13 crop for state reserve is estimated at 600,000 tons, significantly lower than the total 3.5 million tons purchased in the previous year. A smaller domestic crop, lower than expected floor price, and fluctuating market price between RMB4,500 and RMB4,800/ton have farmer’s holding their product due to price uncertainty. Including recent purchases, the state reserve is estimated at 6.5 million tons.

Post forecasts industry is holding stocks of 8.9 million tons (for 1.5 months crushing), bringing MY12/13 total ending stocks to approximately 15.4 million tons. Depending on domestic oilseed product demand/price situation, the government is expected to auction some older stocks which will reduce MY13/14 ending stocks to 14.7 million tons.


Continuing soybean import growth is driven by strong demand from the crush industry to supplement domestic production. MY13/14 soybean imports are forecast at 65.5 million tons, up 2.5 million tons (or four percent) from the estimated 63 million tons in MY12/13. MY12/13 soybean imports leveled off after high imports in MY11/12 resulted in high carry-in stocks.

Brazil topped the United States as China’s largest soybean supplier in MY11/12 with total exports of 26.45 million tons and 45 percent market share. The United States had total exports of 23.06 million tons in MY 11/12, accounting for 39 percent of China’s total imports. Argentina's market share remained almost unchanged.

China’s Soybean Imports by Country of Origin from MY10/11 to MY12/13

Source: World Trade Atlas; * MY12/13 data up to December 2012

China’s soybean exports, mainly for food use, are forecast at 300,000 tons in MY13/14, unchanged from the estimate in MY12/13. China's soybean export volume has been small and stable and is unlikely to change significantly as traditional markets, like Korea and Japan, source food soybeans (both GMO and non-GMO) from several suppliers, including the US.

Soybean meal (SBM), produced in China largely from imported soybeans, is an integral protein component of the feed supply for China’s burgeoning pork, poultry and aquaculture industries. The rapidly developing protein feed needs, expansion in crush capacity and growing consumption of vegetable oils are all supporting demand which cannot be met by domestic supply.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), China’s total industrialized feed production reached 180.6 million tons in 2011, up 11.5 percent (or a net increase of 18.6 million tons) over the previous year. This growth trend is expected to continue in 2012, with preliminary estimates of total feed production at 193 million tons, up seven percent (net growth of 12.4 million tons) from 2011.

Based on the 12th Five Year (2011-2015) Plan for Feed Industry Development, China’s total industrialized feed production is expected to reach 200 million tons by 2015, with an average annual net increase of 7.6 million tons from 2011 to 2015. The plan encourages consolidation in the feed industry, targeting the top 50 feed manufacturers producing 50 percent of the nation’s total feed by 2015.

Soybean Crushing Sector Continues to Expand

CNGOIC's estimates total soybean crushing capacity of 125 million tons per year (360,000 tons/day) at the end of 2012, up from 115 million tons estimated by an industry source for 2011. Industry sources report that new crush capacity seems the province of domestic companies and not foreign investment. Some industry insiders complain that domestic crushing plants, in particular those with state-owned enterprises (SOE) associations, receive preferential financing and local government support. Additional capacity is mainly financed by investments from SOE.

An estimated 78 percent of crush plants are located along the coastal region to facilitate the receipt of imported soybeans (see chart below).

Chart 6 - 2012 Distribution of Soybean Crushing Capacity

Source: CNGOIC

China National Grain Oilseed Information Center (CNGOIC) estimates the average capacity utilization rate is less than 50 percent for the sector, although this could even be high for some large crushing plants. Competition is expected to be keen in this sector if soybean imports level off in the future.


Food Security Concerns

The sustained surge of soybean imports over the past ten years has caused waves of concern among Chinese policy makers tasked with ensuring domestic food security. The quantity of soybean imports, which has grown from 16.9 MMT in MY03/04 to 59.3MMT in MY11/12, to meet demand has highlighted China’s dependence on foreign suppliers and accentuated their vulnerability in domestic supply.

The government’s top advisor on rural affairs has called for a “global perspective” on this supply situation given China’s ability to increase soybean area comes at the expense of reducing grain acreage. The serious drought in the United States in mid-2012 triggered a soybean and corn price spike which reinvigorated government and private sector concerns over soybean supply insecurity.

Agriculture Subsidy

China’s food security policy measures to encourage production and yield increases include financial incentives for key grain crops. China’s total comprehensive agricultural subsidies (four categories including direct grain subsidy, agricultural inputs subsidy, agricultural machinery purchasing subsidy, and seed subsidy) reached RMB165.1 billion ($26.2 billion) in 2012, up from the $22 billion in 2011. Based on analysis of the relevant government policy, the subsidy in 2013 is likely to meet or exceed the 2012 level. Of the total RMB165.1 billion provided in 2012, farmers received $2.4 billion in direct grain subsidies (covering rice, wheat and corn), and $3.5 billion in seed subsidies for the total planted area of major crops (including rice, wheat, corn, rapeseed, soybeans and cotton), $3.2 billion for agricultural machinery subsidies and $17.1 billion for fuel and fertilizer subsidies. The government also provides technical support to help oilseed farmers increase yields.

Rural Economy Policies

The 2013 government policy document on agriculture and rural issues endorsed the revitalization of rural economies. Some policy goals included in this key document are enhanced management of land transfers, increased growth in scale farming and expanded access to agriculture credit. The relevant supporting measures are expected in near future. Policies which encourage larger scale, better financed farming could have a positive impact on domestic oilseed production through gains in efficiency and productivity.

Domestic Biotech-free Soybean Production Policy Unchanged

When MOA issued safety certificates for two domestically developed biotech varieties of rice and corn in December 2009, speculation regarding modifications to China’s “biotech-free” soybean production policy erupted. It also generated a wider debate on China’s policy toward direct human consumption of genetically engineered food products. This debate resulted in a conservative biotech policy which eventually stayed further official progress on the production of the biotech rice and corn varieties.

Four years later, China’s biotech-free domestic soybean production policy remains unchanged. Domestic soybeans are targeted primarily for food use and some are exported (non-biotech soybeans or soybean protein) at a premium to European and Asian markets. The commercialization of biotech grain crops in China for direct consumption seems unlikely in the near future. The China Soybean Association (CSIA) continues to call for the government to build a non- biotech soybean conservation region in Northeastern China.

Import policy on biotech approval system adds uncertainty to soybean trade

For imported products, The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) maintains an approval system for biotech varieties and renews the list on a regular basis. The approval system, however, lags behind the international commercialization pace of new events, which adds uncertainty for soybean trade. USDA maintains close contact with China's MOA on expediting the approval process as market access is key for trade partners and critical for China's price stability and food security.

Responsible Soy Program

In addition to biotech free characteristics, the China Soybean Association (CSIA) is also suggesting the government consider adding production characteristics. The Association recently supported a seminar held by The Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS), a multi-stakeholder initiative which aims to facilitate a global dialogue on soy production that is economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sound.

It is difficult to know how China will react to a program which requires additional certification for its producers.

USDA and AQSIQ Continue Cooperation

In late 2010, USDA and China’s General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding Regarding China-U.S. Cooperation Program for the Inspection and Quarantine of U.S. Soybeans Exported to China (MOU). The MOU requested both sides endeavor to enhance cooperation and communication on supervision of plant quarantine, safety and quality for U.S. soybeans exported to China, and strive to identify and, where appropriate, take measures to ensure that U.S. soybeans comply with China’s laws, regulations and standards on soybean inspection and quarantine, so as to promote smooth soybean trade.

One of the issues currently under discussion focuses on China’s zero tolerance policy for some foreign matter in imported soybeans. In late 2011, the US soybean industry supported the visit by a team of AQSIQ soybean inspectors to the U.S to foster greater understanding of the soybean production, distribution and inspection system. Follow up activities to promote greater bilateral cooperation and communication is underway, including a program on vessel sampling by experts from both the United States and China at the loading and destination ports before the end of MY12/13 US soybean shipping season. The program goal is to compare the existing inspection systems so as to reach a science based agreement on quality and other concerns related to US soybean exports to China.

The Impact of China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone on Oils Trade Remains Limited

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was enacted on January 1, 2010. Under the Agreement, import duties on more than 90 percent of goods imported to China from ASEAN countries were eliminated. According to the 2013 Customs Import and Export Tariffs of China, the duties for palm oil, palm kernel oil, and copra oil remain unchanged at nine percent. In general, Post expects that the implementation of CAFTA will have limited impact on the oilseed/vegetable oil trade between China and ASEAN.

Automatic Registration Form

China’s Ministry of Commerce’s (MOFCOM) manages the automatic registration form (ARF) system for bulk agricultural commodity imports which facilitates import monitoring by the government. It is applicable to soybeans, rapeseed, soybean meal and vegetable oils (See more in CH10035 and CH9035) and seems to have had minimal trade impact.


The relatively high farm-gate price expedited marketing of the MY12/13 crop in the Northeast provinces. Traders of domestic soybeans for food use are usually small to medium size and face many challenges in consolidating soybeans from households and villages. Shipping soybeans by truck is becoming more common as highway improvements increase convenience in redistribution.



MY13/14 rapeseed production is forecast at 12.7 million tons based on a planted area of 7.05 MHa, up slightly from the estimated 12.5 million tons from planted area of 7 MHa in MY12/13. The higher production forecast for MY13/14 is based on an average yield and a slightly increased planted area driven by improved rapeseed profit in MY12/13.

Based on a MOA survey, the 2012 winter rapeseed planted area increased moderately to 103 million Mu (6.87 MHa), up 1.8 million Mu (120,000 Ha) from the previous year. The survey also shows that good weather conditions facilitated the planting and growth of the winter crop with “first and second grade plants” accounting for 85 percent of the crop. Hubei, the largest rapeseed producing province, targeted total harvested area of 18 million MU (1.2 MHa), up from 17.5 million Mu harvested in the previous year. Sichuan's rapeseed planted area remained stable at 14.6 million Mu as reported by industry sources. The Anhui Statistics Bureau showed a five percent area recovery as higher yields contributed to an 80 percent increase in profit per unit in MY12/13 based on the provincial price agency (cash returns RMB7,275 ($1,155)/Ha). The 2013 spring rapeseed area in the northwest provinces is expected to be stable in response to positive profits signals for the MY12/13 crop.

Despite low production estimates by most industry sources, the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) maintains a higher estimate of 12.9 million tons for MY12/13 summer rapeseed, pushing total MY12/13 rapeseed production to a record 13.9 million tons, if an estimated one million tons for the autumn crop is added. According to CNGOIC, the government purchased 4.25 million tons of MY12/13 rapeseed at the floor price for inclusion in the state reserves.


Underutilized crush capacity will continue to boost the demand for rapeseed imports which are forecast for MY13/14 at 3 million tons, up from the estimated 2.85 million tons in MY12/13. China’s policy on rapeseed imports, which restricts entry to non-rapeseed producing regions due to phytosanitary concerns, continues unchanged. This policy primarily affects Canada and Australia. CNGOIC reported that a government delegation visited Australia in 2013 likely to reach agreement on Australian rapeseed exports to China soon.


CNGOIC estimated current domestic rapeseed crushing capacity at 40 million tons (some can be dual use for crushing rapeseed and soybeans), with a utilization rate of less than 40 percent.


Government policies encourage rapeseed production through a minimum purchase price and per hectare subsidy. In MY12/13, the government raised the rapeseed purchase floor price 8.7 percent over last year to RMB5,000 ($794)/ton). Industry sources report the government is likely to raise the floor price to RMB5,200/ton or higher in MY13/14. The current rapeseed seed subsidy of RBM150 ($24)/Ha will continue in 2013. These incentive policies are intended to encourage farmers to increase utilization of idle winter acreage.



Peanut production in China is primarily used for food and vegetable oil. MY13/14 peanut production is forecast at 16 million tons based on a stable planted area of 4.65 MHa, with yields, over the past four years, averaging 3.4 tons/Ha. Peanut production has been on the rise for the past two years due to more favorable prices and peaked at 16.2 million tons in MY12/13. The steady growing demand for peanut products both as food (snacks and milk) and for cooking has stimulated peanut production but additional gains are constrained by limited land resources.

As shown in Chart 2, the national average profit from peanuts stood at RMB10,845/Ha ($1,670/Ha) in MY11/12 with $1,950/Ha and $2,310/Ha in Shandong and Henan provinces, respectively. In MY12/13, peanut profits were consistently the highest among other cash crops in the large peanut-producing provinces of Henan, Shandong, Liaoning and Hebei in MY12/13. This is expected to help maintain peanut planting area in MY13/14. Some provinces, such as Liaoning, support peanut production and processing in resource-depleted regions in their provinces.

Top Five Peanut Producing Provinces
(MY10/11 and MY11/12; Area: 1,000 Ha & Prod: 1,000 tons)

Note: MY12/13 statistics not yet available


Although peanut production has been strong, exports are expected to decline to 500,000 tons in MY 13/14 for several reasons. Industry sources report that the elimination of the Value Added Tax (VAT) rebate (approximately five percent) for peanut exports in 2008 cut profit margins. Japan, the largest destination for China’s peanut products, has strict Maximum Residue Limits for pesticides including BHC and acetochlor and the European Union has strict aflatoxin residue limits, both of which are depressing exports. The current high domestic peanut price is also likely to dampen the export lure. Imports of peanuts (primarily food related) are low due to sufficient domestic supply.


Beginning in MY 10/11, the government provides a seed subsidy for peanuts in an effort to stimulate production and improve the domestic self-sufficiency rate for vegetable oil. Peanut oil, usually priced higher than soy and rapeseed oils, currently accounts for about 10 percent of total vegetable oil consumption in China. Experts state peanut oil content ranges from 48 to 56 percent, compared to 20 percent for soybeans. However, peanut meal has lower protein quality than soybean meal.



Cottonseed production in MY13/14 is forecast at 11.7 million tons from the estimated 12.7 million tons in the previous year, based on an anticipated decline in cotton planting area in major cotton-producing regions. Despite government price support in MY12/13, cotton farmer’s income declined from the previous year in the Yellow River and part of the Yangtze River regions following poor weather which lowered yields. Based on various sources, Post forecasts that a five percent reduction in MY13/14 cotton planting area will drop cottonseed production to 11.7 million tons.


Expanding utilization of cottonseed, such as in mushroom farming, is supporting rising cottonseed imports which exceeded 300,000 tons in MY10/11 and 398,000 tons in MY11/12. However, a large jump in domestic production in MY12/13 reduced forecast import needs for MY13/14 estimated at 350,000 tons.

US cottonseed imports must complete a Risk Evaluation procedure before gaining market access to China. Currently, USDA is engaged in this process with China’s import authority.


The camellia production plan in southern provinces has made some strides forward. China’s State Council approved the State Forestry Administration (SFA) Mid-term Development Plan on Camellia (2008-2020) in November 2009. The plan is targeted at increasing camellia planted area to add oil production of 2.5 million tons by 2020. The 2012 camellia oil production was estimated at 300,000 tons. Camellia is grown on hilly land in Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangxi Provinces. Recent industry reports have shown an investment boom in camellia production in Hubei and Jiangxi Provinces since 2010. While camellia production will remain small in the oilseed complex in the short term, reaching this goal would lift camellia oil to the number three position in domestic vegetable oil production.

Oilseed Meal Situation and Outlook

Total Meals

MY13/14 protein meal (including fish meal) production is forecast at 70.66 million tons, up 2.2 percent over the 69.1 million tons in the previous year, a rise attributable to increased crushing of imported soybeans and rapeseed. MY13/14 total protein meal supply is forecast to reach 72.8 million tons if the forecast 2.2 million tons of meal imports (rapeseed meal and fish meal) are included.

Total protein meal consumption in MY13/14 is forecast at 70.3 million tons, up 1.8 million tons or 2.6 percent over MY12/13 due to strong industrialized feed demand from the animal production and aquaculture sectors. Soybean meal (SBM) dominates the protein meal sector, accounting for 75 percent of total meal production followed by rapeseed meal (14 percent) and cottonseed meal (6 percent).

The MOA’s estimated total industrialized feed production in 2011 is 180.6 million tons, a net increase of 18.6 million tons over 2010. China’s 12th Five Year (2011-2015) Plan for Feed Industry Development forecasts that total industrialized feed production will average an annual increase of 7.6 million tons to reach 200 million tons by 2015.

China’s 12th Five Year Plan - Animal and Feed Production Target (million tons)

Source: MOA

Industrialized feed is being demanded by larger-scale, modernized animal production operations which are increasing in numbers in China.

Self-mix feed use by traditional small-scale operations is increasingly phasing out as the scale of operations expands and the need for large amounts of premixed feed abounds. Total SBM inclusion is expected to increase along with the growth of industrialized feed production.

The following table shows the growth of scale animal farming production from 2005 through 2015. China Academy of Agriculture Science’s research indicates scale swine farming is the fastest growing sector in recent years, especially in the plains region, such as Henan and Liaoning Provinces. In Sichuan province, the largest swine producing area, a local official reported that 60 percent of swine farms marketed more than 50 pigs in 2012.

China’s Animal Scale Farming Development (2005 -2015)

Source: MOA

China’s National Statistics Bureau estimates total meat (pork, beef, mutton and poultry), eggs, and milk (cow) production for 2012 at 82.2 million tons, 28.6 million tons and 37.4 million tons, up 5.4 percent, 1.8 percent and 2.3 percent over the previous year, respectively.

Additionally, MOA reported that aquaculture continues to grow with total cultured aquatic products estimated at 43 million tons in 2012, up seven percent over the previous year. The following table shows total feed consumption for pork and egg production based on a normal feed conversion rate. China’s feed consumption could largely exceed the MOA official feed production based on the major animal product production.

Feed Demand Estimates Based on Major Animal Products Volume

Note: Feed conversion rate for Pork - 3:1 and for Eggs -2.5:1

The table below reflects growth trends for China’s animal and aquaculture production and industrialized feed from 2007 to 2012.

The rise in protein meal demand is attributable to an increased use of industrialized feed for these growing production sectors. Swine feed production increased rapidly to 65.3 million tons in 2011, up 8.9 million tons from the 56.4 million tons in 2010 (this would add 1.6 million tons of SBM use based on average inclusion rate of 18 percent). This trend is expected to continue in 2012 with the estimated feed production at 193 million tons, with net growth of 12.4 million tons mainly for swine and broiler feed, which consume an additional 1.8 million tons of SBM based on an average inclusion rate of 18 percent.

Chart 7 - Production of Industrialized Feed and Animal Products
(2008-2012; million tons)

Source: NSB Statistics Yearbook Table 12-19/20; 2012-NSB/MOA Report and FAS estimates

China’s per capita expenditures for animal proteins (including all meats, poultry, eggs, and aquatic products) in 2011 averaged $242, up from $200 in the previous year. Spending increased in all provinces but varies widely, with the highest spending in Guangdong ($420) and the lowest in Shanxi province ($105). Large cities and a few coastal provinces are well above average and skew the national median expenditure; most regions lie well below the national average (See chart 7 - Source: Table 9-9 and 9-29 2012 China Statistical Yearbook).

Chart 8 - Urban per Capita Expenditures for Protein Food for
Some Provinces (2011:$1=RMB6.5)

Source: NSB Statistics Yearbook

In addition, annual per capita consumption of protein foods in urban versus rural communities in 2011 differed, on average, by 27.7 Kg. Potential increases in protein consumption amongst 656.6 million rural people (out of the 1,347.3 million; Source: 2012 China Statistical Yearbook) opens opportunities for higher protein meal demands. The consumption of milk and related products remains low among the rural population (5.16 Kg) in 2011 compared to the urban population (13.7 Kg). As rural incomes rise, the undeveloped potential of rural residents to consume more animal protein products will create additional demand for protein meal in feed products.

Chart 9- Comparison of Urban and Rural per Capita
Animal Protein Consumption (in Kg)

Source: NSB Statistics Yearbook

Overall increases in animal protein product demand are also fueled by population growth and urbanization. According to NSB, China’s average annual net population growth was 6.44 million from 2008 to 2011. Additionally, the rapid urbanization continues with annual growth in urban populations averaging 22.25 million from 2008 to 2011, with 21 million new urban residents added in 2011.

Soybean Meal


Soybean meal (SBM) production in MY13/14 is forecast at 52.7 million tons, up three percent over the estimated 51.1 million tons in MY12/13. As other protein meal production remains stable and imports of protein meals are constrained by limited resources at high prices (for fish meal) and relatively lower value (for rapeseed meal), SBM remains the best choice for industry feed production and increasingly concentrated animal production. With the large soybean crushing capacity using growing imports of soybeans, domestic SBM production is expected to continue to be high with adequate supply to meet the market demand in MY13/14 and beyond. The current relatively high SBM price (See Table -23) implies consumption continues to be strong in MY13/14.


SBM trade is expected to decline in MY13/14 with exports forecast at 800,000 tons and imports at 120,000 tons. SBM trade has been minimal in recent years because large domestic SBM production fulfills market demands. Japan remains the largest export market, accounting for 53 percent of China’s 926,500 tons SBM exports in MY11/12. Industry analysts expect sporadic imports and exports of SBM as traders take advantage of regional or local price differences and export non-biotech SBM. SBM imports will remain insignificant due to the large domestic soybean crushing sector.

The government suspended imports of SBM from India beginning in early 2012 reflecting the government’s preference for domestically crushed oilseed meals in lieu of other inexpensive priced meals.

Rapeseed Meal

Post forecast MY13/14 rapeseed meal imports at 750,000 tons, slightly higher than the estimated imports in MY12/13. China’s imports of rapeseed meal surged to above one million tons in MY09/10 and MY10/11 partly boosted by increased domestic demand (when domestic production lagged behind demand growth) and price competitiveness. However, phytosanitary restrictions imposed in 2010 have impacted some rapeseed imports. Uncertainty in DDGS imports due to MOA’s enforcement of an import feed registration license on January 1, 2013 has benefitted rapeseed meal imports. In the long term, however, China’s rapeseed crushing capacity is expected to favor rapeseed imports instead of rapeseed meal.



China’s domestic fishmeal production remains low. Growing feed industry demand creates an ever widening supply gap which must be filled by imports.


Fishmeal imports fell to slightly more than one million tons in 2010 from 1.3 million tons in 2009, mainly due to fishmeal prices which spiked at over $1,600 per ton. Import prices averaged $1,335 per ton in the first ten months of 2012, down nine percent over the previous year. Peru remains China’s largest fishmeal supplier at 636,283 tons and accounted for 59 percent of China’s total imports in the first ten months of 2012. During the same period, imports from the United States hit a record 116,776 tons from 104,993 tons in the previous year, most likely due to favorable price and product options. At the end of October 2012, the Peruvian government announced a reduction in its fishing quota (from average 2 million tons to 810,000 tons) for resource management, which triggered a price spike of RMB2,000 to 2,500/ton ($317 to $398/ton). A smaller, more expensive Peruvian fishmeal production potentially creates opportunity for US fishmeal exports in 2013.

Oil Situation and Outlook

Total Oils

Due to increased crush volume using imported soybeans and rapeseed, total vegetable oil production for MY13/14 is forecast at 21.89 million tons, up 411,000 tons from the MY12/13 estimate. Soybean oil is expected to remain the primary vegetable oil produced in China, accounting for 54 percent of total oil production, followed by rapeseed oil (25 percent), peanut oil (12.6 percent), and cottonseed oil (6 percent) in MY13/14.

Total oil imports for MY13/14 are forecast to increase to 9.47 million tons from the estimated 9.17million tons last year due to growing demand and inadequate domestic supply. The MY13/14 total oil supply is forecast at 33.6 million tons with total domestic food-use oil consumption forecast at 27.67 million tons, up 3.7 percent from MY12/13, with industrial use forecast at 2.77 million tons. Soybean oil imports, which had fallen after Argentine oil was banned in 2010, are expected to rebound to 1.8 million tons in MY13/14 (from the estimated 1.65 million tons in MY12/13) as Argentine imports return to previous levels. US soy oil exports rose temporarily during the Argentine ban but are expected to resume previous levels in light of Argentina’s re-entry. Imports of peanut oil are also on rise with forecast of 65,000 tons in MY13/14.

China’s high GDP growth and growing consumer affluence is forecast to increase vegetable oil demand by more than one million tons in MY 13/14 to meet food and industrial consumption. The forecast per capita consumption of vegetable oil of 20.5 Kg for food use in MY13/14 (based on total population of 1,347 million as of 2011) which is still 20 percent less than Taiwan’s 2005 per capita consumption of 25.1 kg (See FAS/Taiwan report, TW7001). Even though China’s oil consumption has grown rapidly in recent years, there is still significant growth potential before it reaches a level similar to comparable markets like Taiwan.

Chart 10 shows a steady upward trend of annual per capita edible oil consumption for rural residents with a slight decline for urban residents in recent years (Source: Table 10-9 and 29/2012 China Statistics Year Book). Industry sources believe this could reflect increased meals away from home and health concerns regarding oil consumption levels by urbanites. NSB’s data shows rural per capita edible oil consumption was 1.8 kg lower than urban consumers in 2011, indicating a potential for higher intake for 656.6 million rural people.

Chart 10 - Comparison of Rural and Urban Per Capita
Consumption of Edible oil (2007-2011 in Kg)

Source: NSB Statistics Yearbook

The per capita expenditure by urban residents for restaurant meals continued to show rapid growth in 2011, reaching an average of $182(compared to $152 in the previous year). Shanghai residents had the highest expenditure (US$350) with the lowest in Heilongjiang ($131).(See chart 11). Strong GDP growth in 2013 is expected to augment a growing middle class with higher disposable income to spend on meals away from home. With more than 120 million migrant workers populating urban areas, the demand outlook for oilseed imports to produce vegetable oil remains positive.

Chart 11 – Yearly Per Capita Expenditures on Dinning
Out by Urban Resident (2009-2011, in $)

Source: Table 10-16/2012 China Statistics Year Book

Vegetable oil consumption is also driven by the food processing industry. For instance, the instant noodle industry, which uses large amounts of palm oil, produced more than 9.46 million tons in 2012, up 19 percent over the previous year based on industry estimate. Some experts estimate that the yearly growth of vegetable oil consumption for food processing sector averages at five percent in recent years.

The wholesale price for major oils varied in 2012. December prices for palm oil were down significantly by 18 percent, rapeseed oil up by nine percent, respectively over January 2012, while December soybean oil wholesale price remained similar to January 2012. (See table 24 to 26 – source: CNGOIC). Relatively high imports of vegetable oil in December and sufficient inventory attributed to a price decline. The price for rapeseed oil, however, remained strong and 20 percent higher than soy oil, with palm oil prices 29 percent lower than soybean oil. Lower prices for soybean oil and palm oil are likely to boost the blended salad oil share in the market in coming months driving soybean oil consumption.

Soybean Oil

The MY13/14 soybean oil production forecast is 11.9 million tons, up 3.5 percent from last year’s estimate due to increased crush of imported soybeans. Soybean oil remains the dominant vegetable oil, accounting for 42 percent for domestic vegetable oil consumption in MY12/13.

MY13/14 imports are forecast at 1.8 million tons. Argentina is expected to resume its status as a major soybean oil supplier to China in MY13/14 following China’s lifting of its import ban against Argentine product. Global Trade Atlas data shows Argentine soy oil imports in the first quarter of MY12/13 reaching 242,000 tons, accounting for 39 percent of total imports. Imports from the US surged to 177,000 tons as China’s total imports hit 616,000 tons. US exports are expected to return to previous levels as Argentine oil re-enters the market.

Palm Oil

MY13/14 palm oil imports are forecast to increase to 6.15 million tons, a moderate rise from MY12/13 levels. A price fall in late 2012 is expected to boost palm oil consumption and import growth. CNGOIC statistics indicate that the December wholesale palm oil price decreased by 24 percent from January, and remained 12 percent lower than soybean oil (see Table 27) mainly due to increased production and stocks by major suppliers, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Chart 12 - MY13/14 Share of Vegetable Oil Consumption

Demand for palm oil remains strong mainly because of its cheap price relative to soybean and rapeseed oils. Blending palm oil with other vegetable oils as cooking oil is popular. The food processing industry in China uses large amounts of palm oil in processed foods, especially instant noodles. Industry sources report that instant noodle production reached 9.45 million tons in 2012, up 19 percent over the previous year. With increasing numbers of busy consumers seeking convenient, inexpensive ready to eat foods, demand for instant noodles is expected to continue.

China does not produce palm oil so demand must be met by imports. The growth of palm oil production in both Indonesia and Malaysia in 2012 surpassed palm oil demand and resulted in high inventory and price decline. However, the low price may maintain consumption at high level in major importing countries such as China in MY13/14.

Vegetable Oil Import Policy Changes

On May 14, 2012, AQSIQ published an internal Notice on “Further Enhancing Supervision of Vegetable Oil Import Inspection.” Basically, importers are responsible for the quality and safety of the imported vegetable oils. Importers shall provide relevant documents certifying the products meet Chinese food safety standards. Imported vegetable oils which fail to meet the Chinese food safety standards will be denied entry. As for imported crude soybean oil subject to further refining, the Notice required the enhanced supervision of storage at an approved warehouse and refining by an approved refinery. The Notice was implemented on January 1, 2013.

AQSIQ claims the Notice is an implementation of the National Standard GB2716-2005 Hygienic Standard for Edible Vegetable Oils. This standard was notified to the World Trade Organization on February 13, 2004 (G/SPS/N/CHN/51) (GAIN CH4070) and the final was published on January 25, 2005 which took effect on October 1, 2005. This Standard applies to both crude and edible vegetable oils. Preliminary study of the GB2716-2005 with the DRAFT shows no significant changes, however, in item 4.3 - Physical and Chemical Requirements, the peroxide value requirement of “?0.25g/100g” was changed to cover all virgin vegetable oil and edible vegetable oil.

AQSIQ’s clarification on specific items to be certified and the laboratories qualified for providing such test reports and certificates remains vague. Currently, Post is consulting with the representatives of China’s major vegetable oil trading partner countries including Argentine and Canada, and hopes to request AQSIQ to hold a policy briefing to clarify the specific requirements. Although the AQSIQ Notice was implemented on January 1, 2013, Post has not received any trade interruption complaints related to this issue.

March 2013

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