Chineses soybean importers may cancel some shipments due to the fall in soymeal prices and poor crushing margins, an official with state grain trader Cofco Ltd. said.
China is the world leader in soybean imports, so any sign that they maybe cutting imports could put pressure on global prices. US soybean futures for May delivery fell 1.5% to $13.72 a bushel in midmorning trading on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Soybean imports from April to September, the second half of the marketing year for the crop, are expected to fall from the previous year, despite imports in October-March being up about 20% from a year earlier, Cofco's manager for oils and oilseeds information, Liu Ni, said at the China International Edible Oils & Oilseeds Conference.
China is expected to import 53 million-54 million metric tons of soybeans this marketing year, slightly lower than the 54.5 million-54.8 million tons previously forecast, she said.
"Imports will be lower as most domestic crushers are operating at around 40% of their processing capacity amid tight operating margins," she said. The country currently has total soybean crushing capacity of 110 million tons a year.
Last year's rate of capacity utilization was about 55-60%, she said.
Most importers have suspended imports of distillers' dried grains--a type of feed product--since March, following an anti-dumping probe initiated by Chinese authorities, Liu said.
China's palm oil imports will also be slightly lower at 6.2 million tons, compared with 6.4 million-6.5 million tons forecast earlier, she said.
This is despite domestic rapeseed output likely falling by about 15% to below 9 million tons this year, she said.
The government now has about 1.5 million tons of rapeseed oil, down sharply after it released about 1.6 million tons of rapeseed oil since October last year, and 2.2 million tons of soyoil in reserves, she said.
But commercial edible oil stocks were high at about 3 million tons due to weak market sentiment because its the off season and because of the government's price controls, she added.