China's corn imports this year will likely rise several times over last year's volume as increasing rural incomes underpin steady growth in pork consumption, a senior agriculture industry analyst with Rabobank International said.
About this year’s corn import volume Chenjun Pan, a Beijing-based expert on food and agribusiness research for the bank said: "It's hard to estimate exactly, but it may be several times larger than last year," agreeing that this would mean at least double last year's volume.
Corn is an important component of feedmeal for the rising hog population in China, which has sharply rebounded from the culling that followed outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and swine flu in previous years.
Hog production increase
China's hog population is likely to rise 1% this year from 453 million heads in 2010, driving historic increases in China's corn imports, she said.
"The (demand) pressure on corn is coming from large hog farms that are entering the industry, while small farms are exiting the industry," she said.
Smaller hog farms tend to rely less on corn for feed purposes, using more non-conventional byproducts of rice and wheat crops, whereas large-scale farms use conventional feed in which corn is a heavily featured component, Pan said.
Last year, China imported 1.6 million tonnes of corn, a 15-year high that was 17 times larger than the volume imported in 2009. This year, the country is estimated to have already purchased more than 1 million tonnes of corn as of last month.
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