China Facing Shortages Seeks to Cut Corn and Soymeal Use in Feed

China, the world’s biggest importer of corn and soybeans, is seeking to reduce their use in livestock feed in an attempt to curb the country’s dependence on foreign supplies, according to an official publication.

The top global pork producer has been buying record amounts of both commodities as demand for animal feed, cooking oil and industrial products outstrips the nation’s ability to produce them. China is tackling the issue by boosting support for farmers, raising productivity and reducing wastage, but demand continues to expand driven by economic growth and affluence.

The agriculture ministry has drafted a plan to partly replace usage of corn and soybean meal with alternatives such as rice, wheat, potatoes and other oilseed meals, the China Swine Industry Journal said, posting an official ministry document, but gave no details on the target for substitution.

The country’s corn demand may exceed 300 million tons by the year 2030, while soybean consumption could hit 120 million tons, which will have a huge impact on food security, the Journal said, citing unidentified experts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates corn consumption at 289 million tons in 2020-21 and soybean demand at 116.7 million tons.

The domestic corn market climbed to a record in January on increasing use of the grain for hog feed and for refining into starches and syrups, and on depleted state stockpiles. The government has encouraged feed mills to purchase wheat and rice from state stockpiles to replace corn.

The country’s soybean imports exceeded 100 million tons in 2020 and corn shipments were more than 11 million tons. The USDA expects corn imports to reach 24 million tons in 2020-21, more than triple a year earlier.

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