China to Compete With U.S., Canada in Asian Market for Soybean Foods
China, the largest soybean importer, may boost exports of soybeans for food to other Asian countries, competing with the U.S. and Canada, as food makers seek non- genetically modified crops, an industry group said.
China may ship surplus supply as non-GMO beans are sold at premiums over modified crops in the international market, Paul Burke, director for marketing and industry relations at the U.S. Soybean Export Council, said in an interview in Tokyo today. Premiums may increase because of reduced planting of traditional varieties in the U.S., the largest exporter.
Global consumption of soybeans for food is estimated at 15 million metric tons for the 2010-2011 year, of which 95 percent will be consumed in Asia, Burke said. China represents about 60 percent of total demand and almost all soybeans for food consumed there are grown domestically, he said.
“In the state reserves they have plenty of non-GMO soybeans available all the time,” Burke said. “Rising premiums, the availability of supply and the proximity to customers” may encourage China to raise soybean exports as farmers in the nation grow conventional soybean varieties and can supply products at cheaper prices, he said.
Buyers in Japan, South Korea and European nations pay premiums for non-GMO soybeans. The premiums depend on the types of product, Burke said. Buyers pay premiums of about $2 a bushel for soybeans used to make traditional Japanese tofu, he said.
Food companies such as Japanese soy-sauce maker Kikkoman Corp. have said they are reluctant to use genetically modified crops because of consumers’ food safety concerns.
China exported about 350,000 tons of soybeans for food to buyers including Japan and South Korea in the 2008-2009 year, Burke said. China’s soybean imports may rise 27 percent to more than 54 million tons this year, the National Grain and Oils Information Center said in an e-mailed statement on Nov. 17.
China’s growing demand for soybeans used in oil and feed production helped futures in Chicago rally 18 percent this year.
Higher prices of soybeans for oil and feed, which are mostly genetically modified varieties, will likely necessitate higher premiums for non-GMO beans as farmers in the U.S. increase planting of modified crops that are higher-yielding and easier to grow, Burke said.
Indonesia is the largest consumer of soybeans for food after China, at 2.36 million tons in the 2010-2011 year, Burke said. Japan is the third-largest at 1.04 million tons.
Southeast Asian countries, which represent about 15 percent of global consumption, are expected to lead demand growth as their populations and economies grow, Burke said.
Demand will also grow as food manufacturers in Southeast Asia are raising exports of soybean-based products to Europe, Australia and New Zealand “where having non-GMO soy food products is very important,” Burke said.
January-delivery soybeans lost 0.8 percent to $12.325 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade at 2:56 p.m. Tokyo time. The price reached a two-year high of $13.485 on Nov. 12.
24 May, 2013
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