China to import record 100 million T of soybeans in 2020 -COFCO exec

FILE PHOTO: Cranes unload soybeans imported from Brazil at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China April 20, 2020. Picture taken April 20, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS/File Photo

GUANGZHOU (Reuters) - China is expected to import more than 100 million tonnes of soybeans in 2020, a record high, said an executive with leading state-owned grains trader COFCO on Tuesday, as rebuilding of the country’s huge hog herd boosts demand for the protein.

The country is expected to crush 92.6 million tonnes of the beans this year, Zhou Jishuai, deputy general manager of the hedging and trading department of COFCO Oils and Oilseeds, a unit of COFCO Group, told a conference in Guangzhou.

After being decimated by African swine fever, China’s agriculture ministry has said the country’s pig herd recovered to more than 90% of normal levels by the end of November, even though some analysts remain skeptical about the extent of the recovery.

Zhou said soymeal demand will remain strong this quarter and into the first quarter of next year.

Demand for soybean oil is also set to rise more than 6% this year, thanks to increasing use of the oil in biodiesel and animal feed.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue and Lincoln Feast.