Beijing. Chinese imports of soybeans jumped to the second-highest volume on record in December, according to customs data, boosted by strong demand in the run-up to next month's Lunar New Year holiday and healthy crushing margins.
December imports by the world's top soy buyer came in at 9.55 million tons, up 10 percent from the month before and up 6 percent from December 2016, according data released on Friday (12/01) by General Administration of Customs.
China's imports of the oilseed for all of 2017 hit an annual record of 95.54 million tons, up 13.9 percent from last year's 83.91 million tons, the customs data showed.
"Demand is usually strong in December as feed producers build up stocks a couple of months before Spring Festival. Crushing margins are good too, supporting robust demand from crushers," said Tian Hao, senior analyst with First Futures.
The Spring Festival holiday, or Lunar New Year, will start on Feb. 15. It is China's biggest holiday and the peak season for meat demand.
China imports soybeans to crush into soymeal, a key ingredient in animal feed for the nation, which holds the world's biggest herd of pigs.
Soybean crushing margins have remained healthy since early August, fueling the appetite for more imports despite delays in getting import certificates.