By Karl Plume
Sept 2 (Reuters) – Chinese state-owned firms bought at least eight bulk shipments of U.S. soybeans on Wednesday, or at least 480,000 tonnes, for shipment in December and January, two U.S. traders familiar with the deals said.
The bulk of the sales were for shipment from Pacific Northwest ports, with the remainder due to ship from U.S. Gulf Coast terminals, they said.
The deals were the latest in a string of large farm commodity purchases by China, which vowed to import record amounts of U.S. agricultural goods this year as part of a “Phase 1” trade deal signed in January.
After months of record soybean imports from Brazil, China has pivoted to buying more soybeans and other goods from the United States. The world’s top commodity importer has already bought record volumes of U.S. corn, pork and poultry this year, and last month booked its largest-ever weekly purchase of U.S. beef.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported nearly 1.2 million tonnes in U.S. corn purchases from China this week alone.
Traders are expecting the robust demand to continue amid food security jitters in China, where food inflation has jumped to the highest in more than a decade.
U.S. soybean exports to China typically rise in the fourth quarter of the year after U.S. crops are harvested and as supplies from top exporter Brazil run low.
First-half 2020 imports have lagged, however. Chinese purchases in the first half of this year totaled just $7.274 billion, according to U.S. Census Bureau trade data, well below the $36.5 billion in annual purchases promised in the Phase 1 trade deal.
(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago Editing by Chris Reese and Sonya Hepinstall)
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