The primary reason for the forecast of large U.S. soybean exports in the face of record competition from South American supplies is the strength of Chinese demand. The USDA estimates show that China imported fewer than one billion bushels of soybeans from all origins as recently as the 2004-05 marketing year. Those estimates show larger imports each year since then, reaching 2.2 billion bushels during the 2012-13 U.S. marketing year.  

Chinese imports during the current marketing year are projected at 2.535 billion bushels. China accounted for 63 percent of total world soybean imports during both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 marketing years. That share is projected at 66 percent for the current year  

China imported 864 million bushels of U.S. soybeans during the 2011-12 marketing year and 791 million bushels during the 2012-13 marketing year. Exports to China accounted for 63 percent and 60 percent of total U.S. soybean exports in those two years, respectively.

Large soybean imports by China have been the result of the combination of declining production and increasing consumption.

Chinese production totaled an estimated 639 million bushels in 2004 and only 448 million bushels in 2013. China consumed an estimated 1.583 billion bushels of soybeans during the 2004-05 marketing year and consumption during the current marketing year is forecast at 2.921billion bushels. Chinese consumption of soybean meal this year is forecast to be 126 percent larger than in 2004-05 while consumption of soybean oil is expected to be 89 percent larger.

Sales of U.S. soybeans for export during the 2013-14 marketing year have been extremely large. As of Dec. 5, the USDA reported sales for the year that began on Sept. 1, 2013 at 1.421 billion bushels, with nearly half of that total already shipped.

Additional large sales under the daily reporting system have been reported since Dec. 5 and will show up in subsequent weekly summaries. 

Sales account for just over 96 percent of the USDA’s projection of exports for the year ending August 31, 2014.