China Is Ditching Expensive Brazilian Soy for U.S. Supplies

Source: By Isis Almeida, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Soybeans are unloaded into a truck during a harvest in Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, on March 7. Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg

Traders are washing out Brazilian purchases made earlier in the year as the price gap to American supplies widened, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Some traders have struck the arrangements to supply their own operations in China, while others are doing them on behalf of Chinese clients, the people said.

Brazilian soybean prices have surged as supplies dried up. At the same time, the American harvest is just around the corner and traders are expecting a bumper crop. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg forecast yields will be the highest since 2016 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its closely watched monthly report on Wednesday.

U.S. gains competitiveness as Brazil soy jumps

“This news reinforces our concerns of stronger competition for Brazilian soybeans in China,” Leandro Fontanesi, an analyst at Bradesco BBI, said in a report. “The 2020-21 U.S. soybean crop is expected to be 16% larger, contributing to an 8% increase in global soybean production, which could pressure Brazilian soybean prices.”

The price gap between the two countries has boosted American purchases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday reported almost 600,000 metric tons of soybeans sold to China in trades that took place at the end of last week. On Monday, people familiar with the matter said American shippers sold at least another six cargoes to China. A typical cargo holds 55,000 to 60,000 tons.

The move could help China accelerate progress toward meeting its pledges under the phase-one trade deal with the U.S. ahead of an Aug. 15 meeting between Washington and Beijing. In the first half of the year, the U.S. shipped about $7.3 billion in agricultural goods to China, only 20% of the $36.5 billion goal, USDA data showed.

To be sure, China has already brought in a large chunk of the Brazilian beans it has bought, limiting the amount of deals that can still be washed out.

(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph.)