Soybean imports by China rose 27 per cent in May from a year earlier, after crushers increased purchases from Brazil to take advantage of cheap supplies amid strong crush margins.

The country shipped in 9.4 million tons in May, compared with 7.4 million tons in the same month last year, and 6.7 million tons in April, according to customs data Thursday.

That’s close to the record high of 10.08 million tons in July 2017.

Imports in the first five months of the year rose 6.8% to 33.9 million tons.

Key Insights

• Chinese imports could stay close to record levels until July, as crushers buy aggressively from top supplier Brazil due to a bumper harvest and the depreciation of the local currency.

• Crushers haven’t bought enough to cover their needs for the fourth quarter, the peak sales season for the U.S. crop.

• Escalating tensions with Washington have seen a partial halt to U.S. soybean purchases.

• Beijing is lagging on its phase-one trade deal pledges to buy more U.S. farm goods.

• China is expected to buy more U.S. soybeans for state reserves.

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• Edible oil imports in May were 664,000 tons. That brings the total in the first five months to three million tons, down 5.4 per cent from a year earlier.

• Meat and offal imports in May were 816,000 tons, bringing shipments in the first five months to 3.85 million tons, up 73 per cent on the year.

• Rubber imports in May were 441,000 tons, with shipments in the first five months at 2.6 million tons, down 1.4 per cent from a year ago.