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Rising demand drives 721% hike in wheat imports last month

Updated: 2013-12-27 09:23
By Zhong Nan ( China Daily)

Rising demand drives 721% hike in wheat imports last month

China's wheat imports are expected to hit a nine-year high in 2013, as the country continues to turn to the international market to meet a surging demand for the grain for use in high-protein foods, animal feed, industry and processed goods.

Customs data show that China imported 970,000 tons of wheat from the US, France, Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan in November, a whopping 721 percent increase over the same month last year.

The US was the biggest exporter last month, shipping 772,327 tons of wheat to China.

Hu Zengmin, an analyst with the China National Grain and Oils Information Center, said that although China has experienced a decade of stable grain production growth, rising demand for feed and industrial applications has put a dent in China's grain self-sufficiency since 2009 and whetted the nation's appetite for wheat from the global market.

Boosted by the booming animal feed and food-processing sectors, the demand for both wheat and corn has surged in the past decade. More than 120 million tons of corn and 10.7 million tons of wheat were consumed by Chinese livestock in 2012, while food-processing manufacturers used 21 million tons of wheat, up 9 percent year-on-year.

Not all of the processed wheat and corn is consumed domestically. China produced 190 million tons of animal feed for export last year, up 5.5 percent from the previous year. The feed was sold to countries that included Mongolia, Ukraine, Australia and New Zealand.

But spring frosts and wet weather in May and June took a toll on China's output in the wheat-producing provinces of Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shaanxi this year, Hu said.

The CNGOIC estimated that China's wheat output this year likely will total 118 million tons, down 2.6 million tons from 2012.

China purchased 5.12 million tons of wheat from the world market between January and November this year, a 39 percent rise in demand from the same period last year.

Its wheat imports nearly tripled to 3.68 million tons in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

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