As of Aug. 27, the U.S. had pre-sold 24.2 MMT of new-crop soybeans, beating the previous sales record set in 2013/14 of 23.9 MMT of 2014/15 soybeans. USDA is currently forecasting 2020/21 U.S. soybean exports at 57.8 MMT (2.125 billion bushels), a return to export paces we saw in 2016/17 and 2017/18 that depends on China importing a very large volume of U.S. soybeans.
This year, China has bought 13.5 MMT of 2020/21 U.S. soybeans, indicating a high level of commitment to U.S. supply. USDA is projecting China will import a total of 99.0 MMT, a record volume although not much higher than estimated 2019/20 soybean imports. China is still working hard to restore its swine herd after losing over 35 percent of hogs and pigs to African swine fever in 2019. Expectations earlier this year were that China’s 2021 swine population would be near 2018 numbers, but the Chinese pork industry is grappling with demand weakened by closures of schools and restaurants due to COVID-19.
At this point, though, if U.S. soybeans remain competitive in the global market and if trade with China is not disrupted politically, there seems to be enough room for U.S. exports to be as robust as USDA’s initial expectations.