China has ample soybean supplies, big price moves unlikely: agriculture ministry

FILE PHOTO: Soybean seeds are seen in a container at a farm in Gideon, Missouri, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has ample supplies of soybeans and significant price fluctuations are unlikely, a senior agriculture ministry official said on Friday.

Domestic soybean planting acreage has increased and China is set for a bumper harvest, supported by government subsidies and crop rotation policies, Tang Ke of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs told a press briefing.

The soybean market has been roiled by the Sino-U.S. trade conflict, with Chinese buyers steering clear of beans from the United States, instead increasing purchases from Brazil and reducing their use of the bean in animal feed.

Over January to August, China’s soybean imports from Brazil accounted for nearly 70 percent of its overall purchases, said Tang, head of the ministry’s market and economy information department.

In 2017, 58 percent of China’s soy imports came from Brazil over the same period, according to customs data

China’s soybean imports are set to drop by a quarter in the last three months of 2018, as buyers curb purchases due to the trade war and high domestic stockpiles, traders have said.

Some industry experts have predicted that the world’s top soybean consumer will face a shortage of the oilseed early next year, likely driving up prices of a key protein source in animal feed.

Beijing imposed a 25 percent tariff on a list of American products including soybeans, in response to U.S. hefty penalties on a list of Chinese goods at similar value.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Ryan Woo; editing by Richard Pullin