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China’s voracious appetite for soybeans and soybean products remains a principal prop to U.S. and world soybean prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 12 projected China to import a record 52 million tonnes of soybeans in 2010-11 compared with the estimate for the current year at 49.5 million tonnes. The U.S.D.A. indicated if its forecast for China’s soybean imports in the upcoming year were to be realized, China would account for 58% of world trade in soybeans. The U.S.D.A. stated in its August Oil Crops Outlook: “Soybean meal consumption in China for 2010-11 is expected to increase 16% to 42.7 million tonnes. China’s robust demand for soybean meal is being led by steady increases in its hog production. At the same time, a growing share of China’s hog herd is produced in feedlots, which use more formulated feeds than backyard producers. Domestic poultry production is also showing strong growth. Its acceleration can be partly attributed to a reduction in poultry imports following the imposition of anti-dumping tariffs on U.S. exports.”

China was projected to import 20 million tonnes of soybeans from the United States in 2010-11 compared with a forecast 22.2 million tonnes in the current year. The U.S. share in the China import soybean market was expected to decline to 38% in 2010-11 from 45% forecast for the current year. Still, China would be the principal destination for U.S. soybean exports. The U.S.D.A. forecast U.S. soybean exports in 2010-11 to all destinations at 39.054 million tonnes, down 953,000 tonnes from a forecast record 40.007 million tonnes in the current year. If forecasts for the upcoming and current years are realized, China would account for 51% of U.S. soybean exports in 2010-11 and 55% in 2009-10.