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Expanding swine herd cues demand for soybeans

USDA, revised its global pork production forecast up 3% based on higher output in China.

Mary Hightower

February 13, 2023

2 Min Read
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China's expanding hog herd has cued a higher demand for beans and bouyed contract prices.University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Soybeans trended upward Tuesday morning with strong export numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 “The March soybean futures contract is seeing quite a bit of movement this morning,” said Hunter Biram, Extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

March soybean futures contract prices had been somewhat more volatile in January, with daily closing prices ranging from $14.71 per bushel on Jan. 5, to $15.40 per bushel on Jan. 17. That high price fell to around $15 before the USDA’s figures were published.

The “USDA export inspections report came out and had some strong export numbers for soybeans,” he said. “In spite of China being off last week for the Lunar New Year holiday, about 76% of the soybeans inspected last week were headed to China. Additionally, local basis at country grain elevators along the Mississippi River at Helena and Elaine have stayed consistently strong.”

Daily grain bids reports from USDA show basis was 35 cents over the March futures price at the start of the month and has risen to 60 cents over since the start of the week resulting in local cash bids of $15.95 per bushel for old crop soybeans.

China’s hog herds

On Jan. 12, the Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA, revised its global pork production forecast up 3% from the October forecast to 114.1 million tons on higher output in China.  FAS said it expected pork demand is expected to strengthen in China due to recently lifted COVID-19 restrictions.

Between the African swine fever outbreak that began in August 2018 and wiped out 40% of China’s sow inventory and lower demand due to COVID-19, the country has been rebuilding its swine inventory. Reuters reported on Jan. 17 that China’s pork output reached 55.41 million tons, the highest level in since 2014.

Biram said he’d China’s expanding hog herd “will create demand for soybeans which will be crushed into soybean meal.”

“Keep an eye out for China's re-opening,” he said, adding that it “will spur demand for food, in general.”

Implications of rain

Biram said while rain in Central America has been beneficial for corn and soybean producers to the south in Argentina and Brazil, rains are delaying soybean harvest.

“As harvest gets delayed, there is an increased risk of loss which has implications for Brazil and its record production year,” he said. “I have seen some data that shows forecasted production in Brazil to be down over previous estimates but still higher than its record 2020-2021 year.”

However, “in general, it appears the market isn't too concerned about the wet harvest in Brazil thus far,” he said.

Source: University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

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