By Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton
BEIJING, Jan 14 (Reuters) – China’s soybean imports jumped 13% to an annual record in 2020, according to data released by the Customs Office on Thursday, as oilseed processors increased their purchases amid the rising margins and robust demand from pig farms.
China, the world’s largest buyer of soybeans, purchased 100.3 million tons of the oilseed abroad in 2020, up from 80.51 million tons in 2019, according to customs data.
In December, imports reached 7.524 million tons, a decrease of 27% compared to 9.54 million tons of soybeans in the same month last year and also a decline compared to 9.59 million tons in November.
China has been trying to recover from a deadly swine fever that devastated its farms. Now the volume of pigs – a crucial type of meat in the population’s diet – is close to normal levels, according to state media.
Demand for soybeans remains very high, said an operator of a milling plant in northern China.
Soy processors bought Brazilian oilseed in early 2020 and then switched to US shipments in the fourth quarter, as Beijing had promised to increase its purchases of agricultural products from the United States as part of phase 1 of its trade deal.
In local currency, U.S. soybean imports in 2020 were up 56.3% year-on-year, according to a customs administration spokesperson.
(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)